There's a serial killer on the loose in Southeast Portland--a murderer who is poisoning dogs in Laurelhurst Park.

Signs posted around the park say that four dogs have died and at least a dozen more have been hospitalized in the past two weeks.

Dr. Erika Zsombor-Murray, the medical director at Dove Lewis Animal Hospital, says the unfortunate canines appear to be the victim of a poison similar to paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide. "The symptoms start with lethargy and vomiting and are accompanied by severe ulcerations in mouth and esophagus," Zsombor-Murray says.

Dog owners say that the poisonings began around July 3. They suspect that the perpetrator placed poisoned sausages in strategic positions around the park, because dogs appear to have gotten ill--in some cases vomiting what appeared to be sausage or pepperoni--after visiting different sections of the 35-acre greenspace.

Zsombor-Murray says she cannot recall a similar spate of apparent poisonings.

The identity and motivation of the killer remains unknown. However, it may be no accident that the poisonings follow closely on the heels of a joint city/county meeting on June 19 about the perennial conflict over leash laws.

Last year, Multnomah County, which is responsible for animal control, recorded more than 3,000 dog-related complaints. But neither the county Animal Services Division nor the city Parks Bureau have proven able to resolve the dispute between those who want their dogs to run free and those who want the pooches leashed.

One pro-leash activist even maintains a website ( that shows candid photos of dogs--and their owners--romping unleashed in city parks.

The rolling lawn at the center of Laurelhurst Park has long been the Jerusalem of the canine controversy, a patch of turf claimed by both sides of the Great Dog Leash Debate. Thanks to the sadistic machinations of a sick individual--whose victims include our friend Tess, WW production manager Shawna McKeown's 6-year-old Labrador, who died last Thursday--the dispute has turned lethal.

Seen a Rogue on the loose? Call 503-243-2122 ext. 380 or email