Larne pet owners urged to be vigilant after dog’s death

The sign at Drains Bay warning dog owners about the dangers of "Poisonous Parsnips". INLT 34-376-PR
The sign at Drains Bay warning dog owners about the dangers of "Poisonous Parsnips". INLT 34-376-PR

Larne Borough Council has issued a warning to dog owners using local beaches following an unconfirmed report of the presence of ‘poison parsnip’.

The local authority is urging people to be vigilant after a Newtownabbey woman reported that her dog had fallen ill and died, a few days after coming into contact with the toxic plant at Brown’s Bay on July 31.

While there was no official confirmation of the cause of death of the 22-month-old mastiff, it’s thought to have been poisoned by hemlock water dropwort - also known as poison parsnip. The plant usually grows along riverbanks, but could have been washed into the sea during recent heavy rain. Its roots are extremely toxic and can present a danger to animals and humans.

The dog’s death came just seven months after a similar incident when a German Shepherd belonging to Larne woman Julie Neill died after picking up ‘poison parsnip’ at Drain’s Bay.

The Newtownabbey pet owner, who didn’t want to be identified, said the death of her dog had been “devastating.”

“There were no warning signs up at Brown’s Bay. If there had’ve been a sign I would have put my dog straight back into the car and been away.”

I’d heard about this on other beaches but I thought Brown’s Bay was safe.

“I just want other dog owners to be very, very careful if they are walking their dogs on the beach and to be vigilant about what their dogs might be picking up. People need to be aware of what this poison parsnip looks like,” she commented.

“I just want councils to make people aware that this toxic plant might be there and that if anyone comes across it they shouldn’t let their dog or their child near it. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

A spokesperson for Larne Borough Council confirmed that following the report of the dog’s death, warning signs have been reinstated at local beaches.

“This plant has previously been found at Drain’s Bay during the heavy rains in the Spring. It grows on riverbanks and the mouths of rivers and can be washed down in heavy downpours,” she explained.

“Warning signage reminding dog owners of the risks were recently reinstated at local beaches with river outflows following a report that the poisonous weed was present at Brown’s Bay. The council also undertook collection and disposal of any loose roots that could potentially be identified as this poisonous plant. There are many native plants that are poisonous and there are also other threats such as leftover decaying food that any dog could eat so the key message for dog owners is to be alert to these risks.”

The council’s advice to dog owners is:

• The public should not pick up items they suspect to be poisonous and instead inform the council.

• Keep dogs on leads.

• Don’t pick up unfamiliar objects off the beach to throw to your dog.

• Owners should bring their own dog toys such as a ball, for their dog to chase.

For more information about ‘poison parsnip’ log on to