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FWC testing rat poison, other toxins for SWFL panther, pet disorder

Investigators of a local wildlife case may have found a connection to what has been causing a noticeable disorder in both Florida panthers and pets in Southwest Florida. Local pet owners are desperate for answers, as some have lost pets to this mysterious disorder.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it’s testing for toxins, including rat poison and blue-green algae, as causes for a hind-leg disorder observed in local wildlife and pets.

In August, FWC shared recordings that showed panthers in Southwest Florida struggling to walk, and neighbors responded, They showing recordings of beloved pets with similar symptoms.

“We have spent thousands of dollars at the vets and chiropractors for our dog,” said Rick Virdinlia in Golden Gate Estates. “Then, he eventually had to be put down and became immobile.”

Virdinlia said his family had to say goodbye to their pet dog, Harley, after he showed some of the same symptoms as panthers.

“There has been other animal lovers and canine owners right here on our street that have also had to put their dog down,” Virdinlia said.

FWC said it’s results have not come back yet, as it looks into causes for this disorder.

“I think it’s going to take place in a shorter amount of time,” Virdinlia said. “Our dog presented for months and then went down hill over night it seemed.”

FWC did not confirm how it was testing these toxins as possibilities for panther and pet disorders. It’s also considering infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies as potential causes.

“Are they testing a panther that presented with this issue or [are] they just testing mice with stuff” Virdinlia said. “What are they testing?”

What we know: One panther and one bobcat had neurological damage. But the questions that remain make the Virdinlia family concerned.

“Hopefully other people don’t have to go through this because it is heartbreaking,” Virdinlia said.

Author: Reporter Taylor Smith, WINK News.
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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