Dogs in the Roaring Fork Valley have found another way to get stoned other than the boring break-in of edibles at home: They are eating human feces tainted with marijuana.
Dr. Scott Dolginow, who owns Valley Emergency Pet Care in Basalt, said he is seeing anywhere between three and 10 dogs a week that come in with marijuana toxicity.
His working theory is that these dogs are eating human feces that have enough THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in it to carry over for a second high. And they are finding these piles of pot-laced poop on trails and in campgrounds.
“Seventy to 80% of people say they have no idea where their dogs got it, but they say they were out on a trail or camping,” he said. “I can’t believe that the owners are lying.”
Just ask Rebecca Cole, the owner of Marty, a 2-year-old cattle dog mix that got into something on the No Problem Joe Trail and ruined a Sunday evening this past spring.
After spending part of the day on the trails east of Aspen, Cole noticed Marty acting strangely — staggering, throwing up, peeing on the floor and just generally out of it.
“He was crashed out; I had to carry him to the vet,” she said. “I literally walked in the door and they said he was high. … I couldn’t believe it because I don’t have anything in my house.”
Cole said she saw Marty with a chunk of something in his mouth on the trail but didn’t think anything of it.
“Most dogs will eat human feces given the opportunity,” Dolginow said.
Dolginow, who also owns a vet clinic in Moab near a lot of camping areas, said there are too many instances of dogs coming in with THC toxicity symptoms after being outside to not think human feces is the source.
“It’s unlikely that many people toss an edible or a roach on the side of the trail,” he said. “It also makes sense from the level of toxicity we see.”
The phenomenon is occurring in places like San Francisco where there is a high population of homeless people who defecate in parks.
Oftentimes there’s not much vets can do and owners have to just let their dogs ride it out until they come down.
In more severe cases dogs are either sedated or are treated with IV fluids, Dolginow said.
He added that when he is hiking Hunter Creek he notices human feces just off the trail on a regular basis.
Pryce Hadley, ranger supervisor for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, said he has not seen evidence of human waste on open space.
“Obviously we encourage people to follow the ‘leave no trace’ principles in the backcountry and use established facilities in the front country,” he said.
Cole would appreciate that, too.
“It was scary,” she said. “I want people to pick up their poop.”