Dog Sickened by Exposed Rat Poison in Riverside Park; Here’s What to Look Out For

Waffles at home after a long day at the vet being treated for ingesting rat poison. Photograph by Emilia Brunello.

By Lisa Kava

On the morning of Tuesday, April 19th, Upper West Sider Emilia Brunello entered Riverside Park at 83rd Street to walk her dog Waffles, a one-year-old rescue coon hound mix. An hour later she found herself at the vet in an emergency situation; Waffles had picked up and eaten a large piece of rat poison that had been left exposed in the open in the mulch directly across the path from the River Run Playground.

Exposed rat poison brick found in Riverside Park on Tuesday, across from River Run Playground. Photograph by Lisa Kava.

Rat poison bricks are generally bright green and can resemble a block of Lego or a large piece of candy.

If a dog ingests rat poison, immediate veterinary attention is crucial. “There are two main types of rat poison: those that are potent blood thinners, and those that affect the neurologic system,” explained Dr. Seth Bishop, one of the vets at Brilliant Vets on Amsterdam and 91st Street, where Waffles was treated. “Your veterinarian may induce vomiting and or administer a substance called activated charcoal to help prevent absorption of the poison.”

Rat poison is also toxic to children. “Rat poisons often contain anticoagulants or neurotoxins which children should not be exposed to, either by ingestion or physical contact. If you suspect your child has been exposed, call poison control immediately (212-POISONS),” Dr. Michael Yaker, a pediatrician, and a founding partner of Westside Pediatrics, on Columbus Avenue and 90th Street, told West Side Rag.

“Waffles picked up what I now know was a full brick of rat poison and, thinking it was a toy, started running with it,” Brunello told the Rag in a phone call. “My gut was that whatever Waffles picked up wasn’t good.” A fellow dog owner passing by told Brunello that she had heard about exposed rat poison in the area. “Thanks to her tip, I was able to quickly google image search what bricks of rat poison look like and got him to the vet within thirty minutes so they could induce vomiting.” Waffles remained at the vet for the day and was treated with charcoal and IV fluids to keep him hydrated.

Earlier this year, in February, exposed rat poison was found in tree beds on both 83rd Street and 85th Street near Riverside Park, and along the wall inside of the park. The Parks Dept had then told West Side Rag that they did not place the poison there and did not know who was responsible. The rat poison found today is the same in appearance as the poison found in February.

Lincoln Neto, Manager of Basics Plus Hardware on Broadway at 84th Street, identified the poison found in February as a home product sold in stores and online. He said the poison looked like one called D-CON, which he stocks in his store. Rat poison is meant to be placed in secure bait stations, Neto explained, and should never be left out in the open.

Dog walker Joshua Montez in Riverside Park.

This reporter went to check out the area where Waffles ate the poison, only to find and dispose of an additional brick of poison in the same spot close to the path across from the playground. Dog walker Joshua Montez, who was walking by with two dogs on leash at the time, said he would not have known the green brick was rat poison. “I had no idea. I would have thought it was a piece of plastic or a sugar block.”

Waffles is resting comfortably at home after a long day. He will be on Vitamin K for one month, which is considered an antidote to rat poison due to its ability to clot blood. “Vitamin K1 is an important cofactor in activating coagulation factors, which is affected by these rat poisons. It can take up to 30 days for the anticoagulant rodenticide to clear the system so treatments and rechecks typically last through this time period,” Dr. Bishop explained.

Emilia Brunello was contacted by a Parks Department representative on Tuesday evening, who assured her that crews were searching the area for additional bricks.

“Council Member Brewer is concerned about this report of rat poison being placed in the open, where it is accessible to children and dogs. If residents are concerned about rats, we urge them to call 311 so the proper authorities can address it,” a spokesperson said. He added that CM Brewer’s office has alerted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) police about the exposed poison. “When rat baits are placed out by individuals not licensed to apply pesticides, we recommend reporting to the NYS DEC police at 718-482-4885 or 1-844-332-3267.”

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 31 comments | permalink
    1. mk baybay says:

      Glad Waffles is doing ok. What a scary situation. Whoever is recklessly putting these exposed bricks in the park (or anywhere for that matter) needs a visit from Will Smith

    2. Joanne says:

      So many dog haters in this city (just read the comments complaining about dogs urinating). I wonder if the culprit is putting these out intentionally for dogs, and not for rats. Ugly thought, but would not surprise me.

      • Cee says:

        That’s my concern as well. One incident is a one off–more than one seems like a pattern. So glad the puppy is doing better. Anyone who tries to hurt animals (or children or old people, for that matter) is the lowest of the low.

    3. Adam says:

      Another reason to make sure that your dog is kept on a leash. It doesn’t know the difference between food and poison but the owners do. Off leash hours are dangerous to both dogs and people, it never made sense.

    4. Lizzie says:

      There are really no areas in the park where it’s safe for dogs to wander free. Broken glass, sharp metal, discarded drug paraphernalia, marijuana roaches, and rotten food are fairly common. Not to mention the waste of other dogs.

      There are parts of the park that look natural, but it’s not natural at all, and your dog shouldn’t be allowed to roam there.

    5. Lisa says:

      I feel the same way about this as I do the people who feed pigeons breadcrumbs. Please do not do either of these things.

    6. SB says:

      So glad Wafffles is doing ok! Clearly a case of well-meaning, rat-hating vigilante who didn’t think their plan all the way through. Also, it’s great to see Dr. Bishop in the Rag, he takes great care of my dog and really is a “brilliant” vet! We have to walk past their office quickly because my little guy starts pulling and tries to go in and say hi!

    7. Linda B says:

      So glad Waffles is okay!! How scary! You did the right thing, Emilia Brunello.

    8. Brandon says:

      I do not own a dog and never have, so question for the dog owners out there: do you wash off your dog’s paws after taking them outside or make them wear booties for walks or anything? The prospect of a pet tracking whatever it steps in outside in NYC back into my apartment and potentially onto my furniture has always been a little alarming.

      • Jen says:

        My dog does not like to wear booties but I wipe his feet (and his belly – he is dachshund so close to the ground) after every walk.

        • LivableCity says:

          Thank you for the smile! The dachshund with the short legs and low belly getting wiped clean is just the sweet image I didn’t know I needed…

        • Cee says:

          I adore dachshunds. Glad to hear you are taking care of yours so well 🙂

      • SB says:

        My dog’s paws are wiped off every time he comes inside.

      • Christine E says:

        We wash our dog’s paws with soap and water after every walk. He is small so it is easy to lift him to the sink. The sidewalks and roads are filthy. You would be amazed how grey and dirty is the washing water.

    9. Lisa says:

      Waffles is absolutely adorable 🙂 and even when dogs are on-leash they can pick up items they shouldn’t. Ask me how I know!

      • LL says:

        I turned my head for a moment and my little angel picked up a chicken bone that was thrown in the street. Luckily she let me pull it put of her mouth.

    10. Frank says:

      It would be equally nice if the city would actually take meaningful steps to get rid of the rats on the UWS. Good to get rid of the poison, but also get rid of the rats. For example, oblige large apartment buildings to use trash cans and not just plastic bags and do not leave the garbage out over night which invites a feeding frenzy and well fed rats reproduce astonishingly rapidly.

    11. Carol says:

      Speaking of paws, as weather is warming, don’t forget Musher’s wax – it can offer “some” protection from hot asphalt. Possibly also what they might absorb through paws? At least if wet?
      I used to administer it pretty well year-round, as it’s one step toward protecting against salt burn. So it’s good for multiple seasons.

      As for ingesting rat poison, I’ve heard in a pinch, it might be possible to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide….. but I’d wanna be on the phone with a professional who could verify that and give appropriate dosing/directions, etc, in real-time. But if you don’t realize the ingestion in-the-moment and don’t know how long it’s been….. ???? Might be cases where this could be the lesser of the evils? So good the timing here was known.

      Ugh.

      My dog wouldn’t even drink out of a water bowl another dog had used, and while she ate green beans and squash, she blessedly wasn’t one to wanna eat anything “extra”. Go figure. And she was small, so because of ground divets (possible sprain) or pieces of glass, etc, we didn’t ever go off-leash, but I know some active or larger dogs live for that romp!
      We also gave up on dog runs cause she’d just sit next to me like, “what are they doing? I’m not getting in the middle of that!” Lol.

    12. Dominic Frigosi says:

      If the dog wasn’t off leash, this wouldn’t have happened. Keep. Your dog. Leashed.

      • Ruby says:

        Not true- my dog just found a brick of this on the sidewalk at 122 and Claremont, while on leash. Also spent the day at the vet. They make the bricks taste good so that rats will eat them… also makes dogs, leashed or not, seek them out.

    13. Anne says:

      I think people are a little paranoid— I have always had multiple dogs— small to huge— they walk with me ALL over the city. I have never bothered with wiping paws. They kiss me. Rest on the couch. AND they sleep in bed with me. They and I are VERY healthy. I’m a physician— you DO have an immune system for a reason…and it thrives on being challenged a bit. I have never had worms…or tuberculosis … or Covid. And I get a cold maybe once in 10 years. This is a lot of worry for nothing, if you care about logic/science. But if not, knock yourself out with wiping and booties.

    14. Laura says:

      I’m a dog lover. I have a problem with some of these comments. Everyone is complaining about rats and now complaining about the rat poison? Please take care of your dog so the rat poison can help reduce the number of rats!

      • Ruby says:

        But the rat poison needs to be in bait traps, not just out! My dog is well behaved and very rarely goes for “street treats” (she’s gone for a chicken bone once or twice but that’s it) and she went straight for a brick of this stuff on the sidewalk yesterday. There’s a diff. between safely putting out the rat poison and just leaving bricks on sidewalks or in the park.

    15. Marilyn Pasekoff says:

      Start putting cameras in the area!! We have to catch the criminals who are doing this!

    16. Rhonda Waggoner says:

      Please remember to rinse or wipe your doggie’s paws with warm water after walking. So glad this dog is ok.

    17. Tom says:

      This is not about rats. This is about a dangerous, sicko dog hater. The inert Parks Dept. needs to post warnings and photos ASAP. Though I don’t see evidence that ASAP is in the Parks vocabulary.

    18. Andrea says:

      I feel strongly that 1 )the number of rats roaming our parks (try visiting the Ramble ~ rats everywhere) has increased tremendously and needs to be reduced, BUT 2) using rat poison is terribly dangerous, not only to pets and children, but also to our birds. Barrie the owl had rat poison in her system when she collided with the vehicle last year. She would have died of it. Birds, especially our red-tailed hawks (who love to lunch on rats), can die from ingesting a rat which has been poisoned. Aren’t there alternatives to poison? The suggestion about garbage disposal in rat-proof bins is a good start and hurts no creatures but the rats.

    19. Pat says:

      God Bless Waffles and may she recover quickly. I know a girl who lost a dog 8 yrs ago the same way. This is horrible
      and scary if you have a dog. They grab things so quickly that you have to watch them every minute around the trees.

    20. woodyr says:

      let’s not forget a lot of dog owners are entitled and feel it’s okay to walk dogs without a leash and they wander into areas where they shouldn’t. people on riverside blvd constantly break the law by trespassing into enclosed park areas, letting dogs relieve themselves where kids play and letting them walk on newly seeded grass or areas where rat poison has been played pay attention to save your pet!!