July 22, 2016 By Michael Florio
Many animals in Sunnyside have suddenly died in the past two weeks and residents are fearful that someone might be deliberately killing them with rat poison.
Five squirrels, one raccoon, one feral cat and a resident’s dog have all suddenly died. The deaths have occurred primarily on 42nd and 43rd Streets (between 43rd Ave and Skillman Ave), according to Rick Duro, president of the Sunnyside United Dog Society. Multiple rats and pigeons were also found dead yesterday on 39th Street and 39th Place, he added.
Duro, along with other SUDS members, is suspicious that someone is putting down rat poisoning.
The owner of the dog that passed away took the pet to the veterinarian, who confirmed that it died from arsenic poisoning, according to Duro.
“It is a horrible death,” he said.
Mariann Nemeth, a resident of the Essex House that is located on 43rd Ave (between 42nd Street and 43rd Street), often feeds baby squirrels and a feral cat.
She said four squirrels died on the building’s lawn last week. One died in front of her.
“One was still alive, he was bleeding from the nose, kicking in awful pain,” she said. “I held him in my hand for over eight minutes before he passed away.”
A Sunnyside dog walker has claimed to see a bloody squirrel and a dying cat on 42nd Street and 43rd Ave. Nemeth believes this is the cat she would feed, which has been missing for about two weeks.
The dog walker claims that he saw white powder on the ground, according to Duro.
“I am so upset,” Nemeth said on the verge of tears. “I don’t know what we can do to help the animals.”
SUDS members have been spreading the word throughout the neighborhood, as well as warning pet owners and parents with small children, Duro said.
Duro, Nemeth and SUDS member Jeannette Remak have reached out to the Department of Health. The department is not willing to investigate the matter until it becomes more widespread, the SUDS members were told.
The Health Department did not respond to Sunnysidepost’s request for comment.
A spokesman with the NYPD had no information about the incidents or whether an investigation was being conducted.
SUDS argues that its members have been getting little help from the city.
“I called 311 and all I got was the run around,” Remak said. “This is the most outrageous, unbelievable and aggravating cycle of nonsense I have ever been through in my life. It is appalling that not one person could help.”
They have reached out to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office.
“This is clearly a sad and dangerous situation, and my office is working diligently with the NYPD and the ASPCA to stop the poisoning and protect our neighborhood pets,” he said.
“I encourage anyone with further information on the source of the poison to call my office at 718-383-9566, or email me at [email protected].”
While residents are concerned about the animals, they are fearful that something even worse might happen.
“Is it going to take a child getting sick for something to get done?” Duro asked. “People have to be held accountable for this.”