Bobi, the dog who didn't need to die

Published in About Animals

Bobi roamed free in Jelsa for several years. His sudden death carries a warning.

Bobi, Jelsa's free spirit Bobi, Jelsa's free spirit Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Jelsa has always tolerated a select number of dogs who have the freedom of the streets. Dog lovers make them welcome while others tolerate them, provided they are polite, well behaved, don't disturb the peace, and don't make a mess. Occasionally the roamers have no owners, but are treated as belonging to the place. Mostly, like Bobi, they have an owner, but are still allowed the freedom to live their lives as they choose. Some, like the beautiful retriever-cross Lord, patrol the little town with an air of authority.

Bobi playing with a new friend on Jelsa's main square, Christmas Eve 2016. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

In the main, there is little aggression among the male dogs who are free. When they meet, they are likely to have a good play until they get tired and go their separate ways.

Bobi playing with Abby in Jelsa's cafe Toni, December 2016. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Bobi was a gentle soul who made friends very easily with two-leggeds and four-leggeds alike.

Bobi with young friend at Jelsa's Karnevol, February 2016. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

He would often find his friends in Jelsa's cafes once he had done his rounds of the local park and Jelsa's further reaches. With his two-legged friends he would sit quietly close by, and be grateful for any attention, affection or doggy treat which came his way. Four-leggeds would be a chance to play.

Polli (left on lead) meets Bobi on Jelsa's Pjaca. Photo: Susanne Pieper

He was especially pleased to meet Polli, who looked as though she could be his younger sister. Polli is a rescue dog who found a good home through an Austrian animal charity, and now divides her time between Vienna and Hvar.

Abby used to get the wrong end of the stick. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

His special friend Abby was a dominant spirit who apparently believed in female lib for canines When they played together, she would invariably finish up trying to mount Bobi, and he never once snapped at her that it was his role as a red-blooded male to do that to her. No, he was way too well-mannered to aggravate a female, even in self-defence. Bobi was privileged to be Abby's friend, as in general, unlike Bobi, she was very picky about who she consorted with - whether two-legged or four-legged. He was just a scruffy street dog, by contrast with her well-groomed patrician elegance. It just goes to show what a special dog Bobi was.

Bobi, waiting for a girl-friend outside her house, February 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Bobi was a very red-blooded male, and, being free at all times, he was always where the action was whenever a bitch came into heat anywhere around Jelsa. He would wait patiently for his latest girl-friend outside her home. He used to get very dirty, with his coat all matted, but it seems that just made him all the more attractive. Every summer, his two-legged best friend Irena would come to the island, and set about changing his ways with regular grooming and the special foods which he loved. Bobi would follow her to work, and stay close to her for most of the day so that they would return home together. Only love, or rather lust, altered this regular pattern.

Bobi, February 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The summer of 2017 started just like the previous years. In July, Bobi went courting, returning home at intervals for a little sleep, food and water, before returning to the object of his desire. This pattern was repeated over several days up to Wednesday 12th July. Then it changed. When he returned home on Thursday 13th July, Bobi was clearly unwell. He was listless and could not eat or drink normally. The next day, when his condition was worse, he was taken to the vet, who pronounced that he was 'just suffering from exhaustion', and would get over it. On Saturday, the third day of his sudden decline, Bobi could barely walk the few steps to the local park. He could neither eat nor drink. The next day, Sunday 16th July, Bobi just lay still and died.

What happened?

During the night between Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July, the streets around the Jelsa Council region were sprayed with insecticide. To be more exact, insecticides.The system of dispersing a poisonous mist into the environment from a hand-held or vehicle-mounted spray gun is known as 'Fogging' in English. Eco Hvar considers the practice flawed and dangerous. Jelsa's local Council has ignored our expressed concerns over several years.

'Fogging' from moving vehicles has been practised for some years in countries where Dengue Fever and West Nile Fever from mosquito bites are endemic. A very small concentration of poison is used, and people are encouraged to allow the mist to penetrate their homes. In the Solomon Islands, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has assured citizens that the practice is safe. The spraying there is usually done when mosquitoes are said to be most active, in the early morning and early evening.

'Fogging' overnight in Hvar Town. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Dengue Fever and West Nile Fever are rare in Dalmatia. I have never heard of a case on Hvar. 'Fogging' is done according to opposite principles from those described by WHO. It is always done overnight, and spreads over roadsides, including places where there are unlikely to be mosquitoes. People are warned to stay indoors and shut their shutters if they have any respiratory problems. Bee-keepers should shut their hives. Why the difference? Because rather than using a small concentration of one pyrethroid insecticide, each year the concentration of poisons has been increased. In 2017, three potent poisons were combined in a deadly cocktail consisting of highly toxic components:

       Cipex.  Active ingredient Cypermethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid known to be highly toxic to bees, cats, water insects and fish, less to birds. It can be toxic to many animals, including dogs. The effects of the inert substances it is mixed with are often unknown. It can cause various symptoms in humans, and is classified as a possible carcinogen in the United States.
       Microfly. Active ingredient also Cypermethrin. Microfly is supposed to be sprayed on to target surfaces, not into the air.
       Permex. Active ingredients Permethrin and Tetramethrin. Permethrin: Highly toxic to bees, fish, wildlife and cats. Can affect the immune and endocrine systems in humans. Classified as a possible carcinogen in the United States. Tetramethrin: Highly toxic to bees, fish and aquatic organisms; possible carcinogen in humans; normally used in small amounts in restricted areas (American EPA re-registration document).
Bobi gave much to many. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Hazards unknown

Obviously poisons are mixed into cocktails, as in this case, to enhance their toxic effects. In the literature, one can find studies which detail how the mixtures can be constructed, and what the toxic effects are on specific target victims in the laboratory. You won't find studies showing collateral ill-effects on humans, animals and the environment. Those experiments are being done every time a 'Fogging' vehicle comes round dosing you and your surroundings with whatever killer cocktail of poisons have been chosen for the occasion.

Did Bobi die of 'Fogging'?

The evidence is strong. Bobi was a normal healthy dog up to Wednesday 12th July, behaving according to his usual patterns. He was out on the streets on the night when the 'Fogging' took place. The next day he was unwell. He had no symptoms of ingestion poisoning or canine illness for the vet to identify. His symptoms matched some of those described for pyrethroid poisoning. His decline into death was unrelenting and relatively quick.

Bobi's death, not in vain? Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Bobi's legacy.

Bobi had a good life, and is mourned by his many friends. The circumstances of his death might make people notice that 'Fogging' in its current form in our region is being conducted in a dangerous, unacceptable fashion. The practice has no proven benefits. Its potential ill-effects are obvious.If enough people take note, especially among the decision-makers, they might act to stop it. If they do, Bobi's death will not have been in vain.

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2017

You can read more about the dangers of the Pest Control Programme in our article 'Poisoning Paradise: A Wake-Up Call' (December 2019)

You are here: Home about animals Bobi, the dog who didn't need to die

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Major review reports recovery of marine life but a redoubling of efforts is still needed

    The glory of the world’s oceans could be restored within a generation, according to a major new scientific review. It reports rebounding sea life, from humpback whales off Australia to elephant seals in the US and green turtles in Japan.

    Through rampant overfishing, pollution and coastal destruction, humanity has inflicted severe damage on the oceans and its inhabitants for centuries. But conservation successes, while still isolated, demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the seas.

    Continue reading...

  • Relocation of soil beginning at ‘completely wrong time’ for wildlife, says Woodland Trust

    HS2 is beginning an operation to remove soils from ancient woodlands at a catastrophic time of year for wildlife, according to the Woodland Trust.

    Undertaking the controversial “translocation” operation – which also involves felling numerous trees – in six woods in April and not during winter as the high-speed railway originally said it would, was a “betrayal of trust” said the charity’s ecologist.

    Continue reading...

  • Migration to European breeding grounds from Africa is harder due to evolutionary changes

    The nightingale was feted by John Keats as a “light-winged Dryad of the trees”. But the much-celebrated small bird with a beautiful song may be increasingly endangered because its wings are getting shorter.

    The nightingale makes an epic journey from sub-Saharan Africa to breed in Europe each summer but there are barely 7,000 nesting pairs left in England.

    Continue reading...

  • Experts say new evidence from Cretaceous period ‘shows us what carbon dioxide can do’

    Think of Antarctica and it is probably sweeping expanses of ice, and the odd penguin, that come to mind. But at the time of the dinosaurs the continent was covered in swampy rainforest.

    Now experts say they have found the most southerly evidence yet of this environment in plant material extracted from beneath the seafloor in west Antarctica.

    Continue reading...

  • As rivers and wildflower meadows in the UK struggle to recover from repeated flooding, the ecosystems they support are collapsing

    For 900 years, Lugg and Hampton wildflower meadows in Herefordshire have bloomed into a wash of colour in spring. These fertile meadows were highly prized, and the Norman lords who owned them used the hay crop to help fund Hereford’s cathedrals, churches and castles. The secret to their wonderful bounty was the River Lugg flowing through the middle, fertilising the valley floor with lime and silt each winter it flooded.

    But this longstanding system is broken. This winter the valley was submerged under several feet of chocolate-coloured water. It has been flooded almost continuously since October, turning the 120-hectare (297-acre) reserve into an inland lake, with just the tops of gates and fence posts peeping out of the water. Now, as spring approaches, the water is still several inches deep and swans and gulls frolic where mice and rabbits would have burrowed six months earlier.

    Continue reading...

  • Analysts say the coronavirus and a savage price war means the oil and gas sector will never be the same again

    The plunging demand for oil wrought by the coronavirus pandemic combined with a savage price war has left the fossil fuel industry broken and in survival mode, according to analysts. It faces the gravest challenge in its 100-year history, they say, one that will permanently alter the industry. With some calling the scene a “hellscape”, the least lurid description is “unprecedented”.

    A key question is whether this will permanently alter the course of the climate crisis. Many experts think it might well do so, pulling forward the date at which demand for oil and gas peaks, never to recover, and allowing the atmosphere to gradually heal.

    Continue reading...

  • Recycling Association warns of serious impact on supplies of food and medicine packaging

    The UK could be hit by a national cardboard shortage as more and more local councils suspend their regular recyclingcollections owing to pressures caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the industry’s trade body has warned.

    The Recycling Association said it has huge concerns about a looming European and even worldwide shortage of fibre – used paper and cardboard – which is used to manufacture millions of cardboard boxes essential for food and medical supplies distribution.

    Continue reading...

  • Analysis of underwater photographs has demonstrated what marine biologists have long suspected – seasonal fish migrations

    New research has finally demonstrated what many marine biologists suspected but had never before seen: fish migrating through the deep sea.

    The study, published this month in the Journal of Animal Ecology, used analysis of deep-sea photographs to show a regular increase in the number of fish in particular months, suggesting seasonal migrations.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive:Mass bleaching seen along Great Barrier Reef could mark start of global-scale event, expert warns

    Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs.

    Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Guardian Australia there was a risk that mass bleaching seen along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event.

    Continue reading...

  • Antarctica’s weather has worldwide impacts and can be a ‘canary in the mine’ for patterns of change elsewhere

    While the world rightfully focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic, the planet is still warming. This summer’s Antarctic weather, as elsewhere in the world, was unprecedented in the observed record.

    Our research, published today in Global Change Biology, describes the recent heatwave in Antarctica. Beginning in late spring east of the Antarctic Peninsula, it circumnavigated the continent over the next four months. Some of our team spent the summer in Antarctica observing these temperatures and the effect on natural systems, witnessing the heatwave first hand.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds