DOG owners have been warned to keep their pets under close supervision when walking in private gardens in the New Town after a number of “suspicious packages” were discovered in the grounds.
Local residents believe substances known to be toxic to dogs have been deliberately thrown over the fence into Queen Street Gardens West from the street with the intention of harming the animals. The ‘packages,’ thought to contain chocolate and other foodstuffs potentially lethal to canines, were spotted by locals who regularly use the gardens.
The reports have prompted law firm Lindsays - who manage key rental for the private park - to issue warning notices to pet owners, urging them to “be cautious” when in the area and the police have been called in. According to signs attached to railings surrounding the 19th-century gardens, packages containing “substances of danger to dogs” have been discarded around shrubbery in the well-kept gardens.
However, one pet owner said the problem had been “going on for more than a year,” adding she believed the packages were being deliberately left there with malicious intent.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Whoever it is, they are intentionally throwing chocolate and other bits of food over the fence, they are doing it to harm the dogs and those walking them in the park, it is absolutely abhorrent.”
In large enough quantities, eating chocolate can be fatal for dogs as well as cats.
It is understood no animals have died as a result of the apparent poisoning attempts, but several dogs have been made extremely unwell after eating the contents of the parcels.
A spokeswoman for Lindsays said the firm were unable to comment on the warning notices at this time, but revealed the incidents had been reported to police.
The gardens, designed by renowned landscape artist Andrew Wilson, have remained in private hands since 1822, with a select number of key holders paying an annual rental fee for maintenance and upkeep of the grounds in return for access.
Central Queen Street Gardens and Queen Street Gardens East are not thought to have been affected.
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said they had been contacted about the packages by residents and community officers are continuing to speak to local groups about the incidents.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the animal welfare charity were not currently investigating any incident related to the gardens, however advised pet owners to be aware of potentially unsafe substances while out walking.
He added: “We urge dog owners to be vigilant, and if they suspect their dog may have ingested something potentially harmful to immediately seek veterinary advice.”
Mr Flynn continued: “Anyone concerned about the welfare of an animal should contact our animal helpline immediately on 03000 999 999.”