A dog owner is taking action after her puppy was rushed to the vet after eating karaka berries at an Auckland dog park last week.
West Auckland resident Katie Twentyman has started a petition to Auckland Council to have the karaka trees in the on-leash pathway areas of Meola Dog Park removed, after her five-month-old puppy consumed one of the toxic fruit.
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"[He] had to be rushed to the emergency vet. Thankfully he is okay now!"
The dog may have been in serious trouble if Ms Twentyman had not been aware of the risk the fruit pose to dogs.
"I was lucky that I had been told these fruit are really toxic a week before this incident, had I not been told my dog would probably not be with us today."
Auckland Council issued a statement warning the public about the fruit last year, noting signs of karaka berry poisoning include confusion, weakness, vomiting, hind-leg paralysis and convulsions.
Ms Twentyman added there was no guaranteed antidote to the poisoning and that the vet said she did the right thing by rushing her puppy there.
"If [the poison is] in the animals blood stream they can be put on a fluid drip and you can hope like mad that they pull through but once it’s in their system it’s a very hard poison to treat."
The Council's acting head of operational management and maintenance Simon Randall says a site visit to the park has now been carried out to identify the number and location of the trees.
He said signage will be added, highlighting the risk to dog-walkers, but removing the trees is not likely at this stage.
"Removing larger trees would require resource consent and therefore a strong argument would need to be established on the likelihood of unintentional poisoning for any application to be successful."
Ms Twentyman remains concerned, as her puppy was poisoned while on leash.
"It's easy for the fruit to get away far from the trees because my puppy ate one that was a wee way away because we were actively trying to avoid them."
Mr Randall points out that the berry-dropping season for the trees is relatively short and that poisoning instances are "rare."
"Instead, dog owners are encouraged to pay extra attention to their pets when off leash in areas where karaka trees are known to exist and to discourage them from scavenging berries from the ground, or keep them on leash during the drop season," he told Newshub.
"Karaka are important native trees for both ecological and biodiversity reasons. Although karaka berries are known to be poisonous if consumed, they are not recognised as a pest plant. They are also an important food source for the native kererū."
He added that transplanting the trees tends to be challenging because of their location and lack of access for people and machinery.
Ms Twentyman says the initial response from Council has been "positive," but that action to remove the trees is needed now and that she started the petition in hopes of speeding up that process.