A leisurely Sunday dog walk turned into a nightmare for West Sider Layla Law-Gisiko after her pup accidentally ingested cannabis-filled detritus from the sidewalk.
Law-Gisiko had taken 50-pound Australian Bernedoodle Milou for their regular afternoon Midtown walk: “We didn’t notice that he had picked anything up from the sidewalk,” she said. An hour later, when the dog began to twitch and vomit violently, she knew something was wrong. “His hind legs collapsed under him and he couldn’t walk — it was very sudden.”
After speaking with their vet, Dr Kalvig and Shorter Veterinary Associates, Law-Gisiko and Milou were sent to the 24/7 services at Chelsea’s Veterinary Emergency Group. “We managed to carry him there and he just passed out,” she said. Milou’s blood work came back positive for cannabis, which the vet said was consistent with the onset of his symptoms.
Luckily for the worried pet owner, Milou hadn’t ingested a large enough quantity to determine further treatment — and the vets decided that the best medicine for him was the chance to sober up. “They told us he’d be better off at home, and let us carry him back out,” said Law-Gisiko. It took Milou several days to get back to his usual energy levels. “While he was able to do his vital functions on Monday, It took him from Sunday until Tuesday to regain his normal routine,” she said.
While she was relieved at Milou’s full recovery, the incident alerted Law-Gisiko to the risk of her pup picking up more than just a contact high. “The vet said it’s a pup-idemic,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “They told me that this is becoming increasingly common,” she told W42ST. “They treat dozens of dogs with the same symptoms.”
Recent research from Cornell University shows that CBD — otherwise known as cannabidiol — can have a positive therapeutic impact on dogs, but research on THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is far more troubling. Researchers in Colorado found “a positive correlation between the increased number of cases of marijuana toxicosis in dogs and the increased number of medical marijuana licenses issued.” In the Colorado study, two dogs that consumed baked goods that included butter with concentrated medical grade THC died.
As the city’s legal cannabis dispensary licenses come online, Law-Gisiko — who ran for the 75th District Assembly seat against Tony Simone this June — believes there will be a need to regulate its use safely. “I think that legalizing our cannabis consumption is probably a good idea,” she said, “but at the same time, I think we’re going to have some key, unintended consequences that we’ll need to handle.”
She added: “This is our home, and we walk these sidewalks all the time — our sidewalks are littered with this kind of stuff. Once we have a little more data, I think we will need legislation.”
For now, she is warning other pet owners to be “super vigilant and careful” when out with pets for a walk among the many unidentified “treats” bound to pique their curiosity: “What a scare!”
And as for Milou? He posted on his personal Instagram: “To all the pups who walk city streets, especially where marijuana is legal, be super careful because it’s littering our sidewalks and we are getting super sick.”