EDWARDS, Colorado - A dog died and four people at a veterinarian clinic were sickened Friday after the animal ingested a toxic chemical, according to the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
The animal vomited the chemical on Friday after being brought into the Vail Valley Animal Hospital in Edwards, creating a gas that caused respiratory distress in the people immediately surrounding the gas, according to the fire district's press release.
Three people showed signs of respiratory distress and were taken to Vail Valley Medical Center for treatment. An additional person may have been exposed and was transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure.
The chemical was likely zinc phosphate, a pesticide that used to eliminate rodents, said Gail McFarland of the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
It's not known where the dog ingested the toxic substance, McFarland said.
"When the pesticide comes into contact with water, it forms a toxic gas," she said. "When the dog threw up, this released the gas as the pesticide had mixed with the contents in the dog's stomach. After establishing the most effective way to remove the dog from the contaminated area without endangering responders, the dog was taken outside. Equipment was also removed from the clinic so that the vet could treat the dog outside of the contaminated area. Unfortunately, the dog did not survive and our condolences go out to the dog's family."
It is unlikely that anyone else was exposed to this chemical gas, the fire district said. Symptoms of exposure would include burning of the throat, tightness of the chest and difficulty breathing.
Responding agencies included Eagle River Fire Protection District and Eagle County Ambulance District.