Despite the extensively documented dangers pellet-type rat poisons pose to pets, children, and wildlife, they continue to be a readily available and popular solution to a ubiquitous urban problem. Parents of small children or owners of dogs or cats that are allowed to roam outside should avoid using poisoned baits. But what if a neighbor uses them and poisoned rats begin showing up in your yard? There are a few things to bear in mind.
How rat poison works
There are several types of rodent poison common in the United States. A common feature of all of them is that they are designed to kill a small mammal. Even if a dog, cat, or child is substantially larger than a rat, the poison works in much the same way on their systems as it does on a rat’s. Even if it doesn’t kill, it can cause serious injury. Here are the four common types:
- Anticoagulant rodenticides (ACR). These chemicals cause severe internal bleeding, effectively causing the rodent to bleed to death. In sufficient quantities they can cause bleeding from the nose or gums, coughing (bleeding in the lungs), and other severe symptoms.
- Cholecalciferol. This type of poison causes kidney failure through a buildup of calcium in the body. It can be very difficult to treat due to the challenge of getting calcium out of the kidneys. Its symptoms can include lethargy, increased thirst, and tremors.
- Bromethalin. This poison causes brain swelling, leading to vomiting, seizures, and other severe reactions.
- Phosphides. These poisons are typically used to control larger pests like moles. They create a poisonous gas in the stomach.
Each of these poisons can be treated to various degrees, but the goal should really be to avoid having them in the environment at all. There are effective alternatives to poison, including “zap traps” that use electric shock and traps that kill the rat with a powerful blow to the spine.
Potential legal problems with using rat poison
In addition to the physical risks to pets and children, using rat poison can create legal risks as well. The more serious one is if a child gets ahold of poison that hasn’t been adequately childproofed. In some situations a person who does so may be committing negligence. This can be true even if the child was trespassing on the property at the time. For example, if the property has a trampoline that is accessible to children in the neighborhood, one should anticipate children being around rat traps left nearby.
A less costly but still serious risk is that the poison will hurt or kill a neighbor’s pet. Even if poison can’t be reached by pets in the containers where it’s left, a dog could easily find a dead or dying rat and eat it. Even though there are limits on how much a person can recover in a lawsuit for injuries to pets, it is better to avoid the problem to begin with.
GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have questions about a potential legal issue related to rat poison, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.