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While ibuprofen-laced hot dogs might sound like an especially thoughtful case of trail magic to hikers with sore legs, some dog owners in eastern Idaho who discovered the hidden franks on their nearby paths are finding them something less than a gift.
“A small amount of ibuprofen can be toxic, even deadly for dogs,” the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release last Friday. Authorities believe the strategically placed hot dogs, which have been found along trails near Pocatello, Idaho, are an intentional attempt to poison local pets. So far, the motive is unclear.
“It could be that somebody thought it was a prank, and it could be that it was malicious and they were trying to take pets out,” says Jared Fisher. Fisher manages public relations for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest’s Westside Ranger District, where some of the hot dogs have been found. He speculates that the perpetrator could also be frustrated about having to share recreation areas with canine trail users.
“We do have reports of [dog owners] who don’t follow the leash rules at those trailheads, and this might be retaliation of some kind. But regardless of motive, it’s a serious crime and we’re taking it very seriously,” Fisher says.
So far, no hungry or footsore hikers appear to have taken the bait, but at least three pets have been injured and one was killed after ingesting the toxic franks.
This isn’t Idaho’s first case of suspected dog poisoning. In 2016, ground meat mixed with strychnine-laced gopher bait killed a dozen working dogs in the Canyon County area. Reports of poisoned meatballs and hotdogs have also been surfaced in the Salmon Region and the Upper Sawtooth Valley in the past, as well as in eastern Washington.
However, Fisher says this is the first suspected case of intentional dog poisoning near Pocatello. Reports name four affected areas so far, including Mink Creek and Kinney Creek in the national forest, as well as Chinese Peak and Blackrock Canyon on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The last reported hot dog sighting was about two weeks ago, says Fisher.
Since losing her dog, a Labrador named Mudge, to a poisoned frank a few months ago, one Pocatello local has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a reward fund. The goal: To entice anyone with information about the poisonings to step forward. As of publication, the campaign has raised over $8,000.
While the Sheriff’s Office says it “cannot suggest or recommend donations to any reward fund,” it does urge locals to report any suspicious activity directly to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, which is managing the ongoing investigation.
In the meantime, authorities recommend pet owners keep their dogs on leash on all trails where suspicious activity has been detected. And peckish hikers are advised to obey the five-second rule—at least in this case.