Hiking events

Someone is poisoning dogs on Idaho hiking trails

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While ibuprofen hot dogs may seem like a particularly thoughtful case of trail magic for hikers with sore legs, some eastern Idaho dog owners who have discovered the franks lurking on their trails at proximity find them something less than a gift.

“A small amount of ibuprofen can be toxic or even fatal to dogs,” the Bannock County Sheriff‘s Office said in a statement. Press release last Friday. Authorities believe the strategically placed hot dogs, which were found along trails near Pocatello, Idaho, are an intentional attempt to poison local pets. For now, the motive is unclear.

“Somebody might think it was a prank, and it might be malicious and trying to take out pets,” says Jared Fisher. Fisher handles public relations for the Westside Ranger District of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, where some of the hot dogs were found. He speculates that the abuser might also be frustrated by having to share recreational areas with dog trail users.

“We have reports of [dog owners] who do not follow the leash rules at these starting points, and it could be some kind of retaliation. But regardless of the motive, it’s a serious crime and we take it very seriously, Fisher said.

So far, no hungry or foot-sick hikers appear to have taken the bait, but at least three pets have been injured and one has been killed after ingesting the poisonous franks.

This isn’t the first suspected case of dog poisoning in Idaho. In 2016, minced meat mixed with strychnine-based gopher bait killed a dozen working dogs in the Canyon County area. Reports of poisoned meatballs and hot dogs have also surfaced in the Salmon Region and Upper Sawtooth Valley in the past, as well as in East Washington.

However, Fisher says this is the first suspected case of intentional dog poisoning near Pocatello. The reports name four areas affected so far, including Mink Creek and Kinney Creek in the National Forest, as well as Chinese Peak and Blackrock Canyon on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The last reported hot dog sighting was about two weeks ago, Fisher said.

Since losing her dog, a Labrador retriever named Mudge, to a poisoned franc a few months ago, a Pocatello resident has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a reward fund. The goal: to encourage anyone with information about the poisonings to come forward. At press time, the campaign has raised over $8,000.

Although the sheriff’s office says it “cannot suggest or recommend donations to any reward fund,” it urges residents to report suspicious activity directly to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation in Classes.

In the meantime, authorities are recommending that pet owners keep their dogs on a leash on any trails where suspicious activity has been detected. And hungry hikers are advised to obey the five-second rule, at least in this case.