By DEVIN WEEKS
POST FALLS — Several mysterious and coincidental canine deaths have Allen Croswhite worried.
"I am concerned for the dogs in my neighborhood," Croswhite wrote in an email to The Press on Monday night.
Croswhite, who lives in the River Park Plaza neighborhood near the Spokane River, had to put his 9-year-old Weimaraner, Coco, and his 7-year-old Chihuahua-Dachshund mix, Paco, down at Christmastime when both became unexpectedly ill and would not eat.
"I don't know, it was just kind of odd," Croswhite said in a phone interview Tuesday. "The bigger dog was older. I just figured he had another year or two left. The smaller dog got sick and I took him to Kootenai Animal Hospital. I just assumed he had swallowed something he couldn't get out. They said his kidneys and his liver were failing and it was going to cost a lot of money to get him all fixed up and hydrated.
"I couldn't afford to do that," he said. "It was kind of like a surprise. I didn’t expect both of them to go together, within two weeks."
Also last year, the neighbors two houses down from Croswhite lost their two big dogs. And another neighbor across the street recently had a dog die unexpectedly.
"It was sad," he said.
Last summer, Croswhite received an anonymous handwritten letter from a neighbor who complained about Coco barking while Croswhite was at work.
"He was a Weimaraner; he was kind of born to bark. They’re just bred to do that," Croswhite said. "He was pretty loud, but I was home every night, so I never was fined. He wasn’t out of control — it was just kind of annoying."
Around that same time, contract workers were working on a nearby house, and Croswhite said he found building materials in his yard, where his dogs were kept.
"I don’t know if they were chucking stuff at him," he said. "One of the workers called the police."
Croswhite didn't know if there was a correlation between the annoyed neighbors and his dogs all of a sudden taking ill, but a call to the Post Falls Police Department yielded no reports of foul play, animal poisoning or any serious complaints in the past year or so.
"We've had cases in the past of animal poisoning and we take it very seriously," said PFPD Lt. Mark Brantl.
Though sad at the loss of his companions, Croswhite didn't feel that something was off until he spoke to a neighbor last week and realized it was not just his but five dogs in the neighborhood that have died somewhat abruptly.
Brantl said if somebody suspects their animal was victim to foul play, he encourages them to call the police at once.
"If we don’t get the phone calls, we don’t get people reporting their suspicion, there’s not a whole lot we can do," he said.
Kootenai Humane Society development director Vicky Nelson said if anyone has a concern about poisoning, have a vet check them out right away.
"That would be the only suggestion — call your vet. Have them check if you suspect foul play," she said.
Rose Francis, who runs the River Park Plaza Homeowners Association, said Croswhite spoke to her Monday evening about his concerns, but that was the first she had heard. Hers were the two big dogs that died prior to his, but she said they were a little older and it wasn't really a surprise. She said that in the past, she has received barking dog complaints from neighbors "but nothing more than just a little grumbling."
"I don't suspect any foul play," she said. "Our neighborhood overall is a great neighborhood."