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AWLA says dog poisoning is rare but there are steps local pet owners can do to prepare

A dog takes the back seat in the Arlandria neighborhood of Alexandria. (staff photo by James Cullum)

An alleged dog poisoning attempt in Del Ray has been the big news story in Alexandria this week, but the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) said such incidents are exceedingly rare.

While the story has had some dog owners concerned about other possible cases of dog poisoning, Tony Rankin, chief operating officer for AWLA, said the attempted poisoning is ‘strongly believed’ to be an isolated incident.

“We have not had any reports of this nature in the almost 3 years that I have been here,” Rankin said. “I believe incidents like this are extremely rare, especially in a very dog-friendly community like Alexandria… we strongly believe this was an isolated incident and that the suspect only targeted one specific house.”

Rankin said that the story can serve as a reminder for locals not to leave their pets unattended.

“This said, I have always encouraged people to never leave their pets unattended, even in a fenced yard, and to always keep an eye out for anything that might pose a risk to their pets,” Rankin said. “This applies to their own yard, out on a walk around town, or out on a hike in the country.”

Rankin said it would also be a good idea for anyone with a pet to have poison control’s number readily available.

“I also strongly encourage anyone who owns a pet to keep the ASPCA Poison Control number in their phone, which is 888-426-4435,” Rankin said. “It can be an invaluable resource where a pet owner can get great advice if they think their pet has ingested something toxic.”

John Romano, an Alexandria resident, was charged with attempted poisoning of a companion animal. AWLA’s Board Chair Julie Conway asked that the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecute the attempted dog poisoning case as a felony. Commonwealth Attorney Byran Porter told ALXnow the crime is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail.

The case is set for arraignment on Monday, Feb. 27.

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