Poison confirmed in death of fourth Spokane-area dog

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A veterinarian has confirmed that a dog that died earlier this week in Spokane's South Hill neighborhood was killed by a fast-acting poison used in pest control.

Murphy was a 5-year-old Keeshond, a former show dog and one of Peggy Parker's best friends.

"Pet lovers who consider them part of the family -- they understand what I'm saying. You just don't ever expected anything so senseless or so needless or so cruel," Parker said.

On Tuesday Murphy was inside his own fenced back yard at Parker's home when witnesses saw him eat something. A short while later, the dog began shaking uncontrollably.

"It had only been a few moments and by the time I drove him from here on 17th to the vet on 57th, he was almost gone," Parker said. "It happens very rapidly."

A veterinarian determined Murphy had ingested a neurotoxin similar to strychnine.

It's possible a major landscaping project in Parker's backyard unearthed old poison the dog may have consumed; however, Parker believes Murphy's death was intentional. She believes someone could have used a path in the neighboring vacant lot, and dropped tainted meat over the fence.

"Because it had not happened in this part of the South Hill, I really feel it's important to warn people that it could happen anywhere," Parker said.

Tests results that would show whether Murphy was poisoned with strychnine, the neurotoxin used in previous killings, is not available.

Three other dogs in the Spokane area have died in recent weeks after consuming meatballs that had been tainted with

Veterinarians say any type of bleeding is a warning sign. Pet owners can buy their dogs some extra time by forcing the dogs to vomit. Vets recommend filling a syringe with a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide, and squirting it into the back of the dog's throat.

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $2,500 reward to catch the person responsible for poisoning dogs in Spokane.