Dog poison fears in city park sparks investigation: EXCLUSIVE - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Dog poison fears in city park sparks investigation: EXCLUSIVE

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The battle to control the city's booming rat population is an ongoing war in the streets and alleys of Chicago. Now, state health officials are trying to exterminate a pest-control company that apparently didn't follow the rules when it set rat traps in a city park, nearly killing a dog and perhaps injuring others.

FOX 32 News first reported the story last summer about little Pierre, the poisoned Papillon. State health officials saw the story and launched an investigation. Now, they're trying to revoke the license of Logan Square Pest Control, which denies it had anything to do with poisoning the dog.

The Illinois Department of Health says the company likely poisoned Pierre accidentally when he went out for a walk last summer at Lakeshore East Park.

Paula Woodley says the vet told her Pierre had ingested rat poison, an anti-coagulant that can cause an animal to bleed to death. Pierre barely survived, but thanks to emergency surgery, nearly two weeks in the animal hospital, and $9,000 in vet bills, he's still here today.

"A whole bunch of blood came out of him…blood game out. Piles of blood actually," Woodley explains. "It was very traumatic, you know. He's doing well now but obviously he suffered a lot of harm."

After Pierre became ill, Woodley checked the Chicago park district property next to her high-rise and found rat traps tied to the fence surrounding both the dog park and the children's play lot. They had been placed there by Logan Square Pest Control, which had been hired by the condo's property management company to get rid of rats in the park.

After initially dodging our requests for an interview for several days, the company's owner, Carl Easter, agreed to talk.

"I really don't think she knows where her dog went, and knows how the animal ingested whatever the dog ingested," Easter says.

Easter disputes the investigation by the Illinois Department of Health that found most of the boxes placed in the park were baited in a "careless and negligent manner" or that the cubes of poison were unsecured so they could be shaken out or carried out by rats.

Easter believes the damage was done when city crews removed the traps.

"Well, I feel that possibly after ripping them off they might have lost a pin or stake or wire tie," Easter says.

The state also cited the company for using untrained and uncertified workers to bait the traps, poor record-keeping, and placing the poison in a wide open area.

University of Illinois Pest Control Specialist Phil Nixon says placing rat traps next to a dog park and tot lot is risky business.

"It's very close to both people and pets that could be fairly easily harmed by these things," Nixon explains.

After 27 years in business, the state is now trying to pull Logan Square's pest control license and determine whether any other dogs were poisoned by its rat traps in other areas.

Woodley says she got a rude reaction when she called Easter about her $9,000 vet bill.

"He just started all of a sudden to scream and yell, and was even very threatening," Woodley says.

When asked if he'd be willing to compensate Woodley for her vet bills, Easter said, "well I'd be willing to meet with her and talk about it."

Logan Square Pest Control also has contracts to do pest management for restaurants at O'Hare, but it can't do business with the city of Chicago. The company was debarred in 2011 for minority business fraud, after Easter's 99-year-old mother got a city contract and allegedly had all the work performed by her son's company.

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