SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - A three month old pup died Thursday night. She was emaciated, skin and bones, and spent the last four days of her life fighting for one more breath.
She certainly died with more dignity than most coyotes; she was being cared for by the Animal Rescue Team in Santa Ynez.
Director Julia Di Sieno said this was the third coyote in the past month to die from rodent poisoning. The feral dog was spotted last weekend near Shepherd Mesa in Carpinteria, the same area where the others were found.
NewsChannel 3 spent Thursday morning at the rescue center while Di Sieno cared for the dying pup.
"On a humane level, wouldn't it make sense to put it down?" I asked. "She's fighting the fight," Di Sieno said. "We've done it before with others, but not as severe. She deserves a second chance. She didn't ask for this."
You could count what hairs were left covering her small body. She'd contracted a horrific case of mange -- one of the first symptoms of rodent poisoning, according to Di Sieno.
"It's those Tom Cats and Decons that are so deadly to wildlife," Di Sieno said. "And it keeps on going; the coyote eat the squirrel, then the mountain lion goes after the coyote."
Suspicious cases that come through her center are stored in a freezer, then sent off to a Fish and Wildlife lab at U.C. Davis for necropsies. Di Sieno said 60% come back positive for rodenticide or pesticide poisoning.
One grower in Carpinteria, who was unavailable for an interview, said farmers use what's available in their "tool box" to keep their crops alive, and they don't go for the "big hammer" first.
Still, Di Sieno would like to see all poisons outlawed.
Her eco-friendly solutions include owl boxes and deer fencing. She claims the natural predators will take care of the rest.
For more information about the Animal Rescue Team, or to make a donation, contact the non-profit at animalrescueteam.net