Poison parsnip blamed for dog’s death at Drains Bay beach

"Poison parships" otherwise known as hemlock have been washed onto Drains Bay beach. INLT 06-658-CON
"Poison parships" otherwise known as hemlock have been washed onto Drains Bay beach. INLT 06-658-CON

Pet owners have been warned to be on the alert for a poisionous plant at Drains Bay beach after a dog died after lifting a “poison parsnip”.

Warning signs have been put in place at the access points to the beach after Julie Neill’s two-year-old German Shepherd died an agonising death.

Otherwise known as hemlock or “dead man’s finger”, the plant is highly toxic to animals and humans.

Mrs. Neill told the Larne Times that her dog “Jack” had not even eaten the plant but had simply lifted it.

She believes that the poison had entered his body by his tongue and had slowlyworked its way through his system before dying five days later.

“Jack ran onto the beach and lifted this cream coloured seaweed thing. I got him to leave it . I never thought anything more of it until he got really sick.

“On the day he died, he was off colour all day and had been sick in the morning. He was just not himself.”

Julie made an appointment with her vet for the next morning.

However, his condition deterioriated quickly and by the morning, “Jack” had died.

“His liver function tests were off the scale which suggested he had liver poisoning.”

Julie said she believed that a “poison parsnip” had been responsible for his death after being sent a picture and recognised it as the same as the one “Jack” had had in his mouth.

She also learned that another dog had died just hours after eating one at a beach in Cardross in Argyll on the Scottish coast last month.

A freshwater plant, it is understood that a number may have been washed up on Drains Bay beach.

Larne mayor Councillor Maureen Morrow urged parents and dog walkers to remain vigilant despite 15 kilograms of the plant being removed from Drains Bay beach and others checked.

Ros Curran, a veterinary surgeon, at Gleno Veterinary Centre, said that she has never previously encountered something so toxic or quick acting .