The death of two pets in Parksville — and a suspected third in the same area — due to antifreeze poisoning is just one more reason why something needs to be done to make engine coolant less attractive to animals, says Scott Fraser.
The MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim lost his own family pet to antifreeze poisoning in 2007 and subsequently began a drive to make antifreeze safer.
“I did a lot of research and found out that thousands and thousands of companion animals across North America die a horrible death every year,” Fraser said. “It’s totally preventable.”
Fraser sponsored a private member’s bill in the legislature, The Safe Antifreeze Act, which called for the active ingredient in antifreeze to be changed from ethylene glycol to propylene glycol.
“Ethylene glycol tastes like candy and is fatal in small amounts,” he said. “Propylene glycol does not taste like candy and it’s not lethal.”
Although Fraser said the bill had substantial public support — including a 10,000-name petition and endorsement from numerous groups, such as the B.C. Guide Dog Association, it failed to pass. However, the provincial government did pass a measure in 2009 that required a bittering agent to be added to antifreeze sold in the province.
The product is designed to make antifreeze less attractive to animals. The legislation came into effect in December of 2011.
Parksville SPCA manager Nadine Durante said she would have preferred the propylene glycol alternative, but called the move a good first step.
“I think it’s a beginning,” she said. “I would like to see ethylene glycol no longer in existence in our communities, but at least we got some movement towards a safer environment.”
Durante said she has heard of a second cat in the same Parksville neighbourhood that succumbed to antifreeze poisoning since the first report two weeks ago.
Although she stressed there is no evidence of foul play involved, she reiterated that it is an indictable offense to wilfully poison an animal.
“We don’t know what caused these deaths, whether it was inappropriate disposal of the antifreeze or something else,” she said. “The concern I had was the amount that was consumed. It seemed like an awful lot to be just from a puddle on the ground.”