WARNING: Osceola County Animal Services is investigating reports that someone might be poisoning pets in a Kissimmee neighborhood.

Illegal insecticide poisoned Osceola pets

Oct 12, 2015 — by Henry Pierson Curtis | Orlando Sentinel

A deadly pesticide banned for use in the United States likely killed four pets and a possum in recent weeks in Kissimmee, according to the Osceola County Animal Services.

Three cats and the possum were found dead two weeks ago on Locust Berry Drive and a dog died the following weekend in the same neighborhood, Animal Services Director Kim Staton said Monday.

“It’s kind of unusual to have that many deaths,” said Staton “None of them showed external injuries.”

The bodies of the cats and the possum were found within feet of a bowl filled with rice and beans outside an undisclosed home on the street. Tests conducted last week at Michigan State University showed the bowl’s contents had deadly levels of Aldicarb, a pesticide banned for sale in the U.S., said Staton.

“People are not supposed to be able to obtain it at this point,” she said.

The pesticide drew international attention after July 4, 1985, when more than 2,000 people were treated for poisoning after eating watermelons improperly grown with Aldicarb, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. International bans followed when testing showed it was particularly deadly for children.

The latest deaths follow an unusually high number of animal cruelty cases this year.

Animal Control already was investigating five criminal cases of animal abuse before the food bowl poisonings. On average, the county handles no more than three cases annually, said Staton.

Animal Control officers are trying to find the source of the pesticide.

Sold illegally in the U.S. as “Tres Pasitos,” the pesticide is smuggled from Latin American countries where it used to kill roaches, mice and rats. “It’s name means “Three Little Steps” in English, because after eating it, this is all mice can muster before dying,” according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The dead animals will undergo necropsies at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Staton said.

Residents living on or near Locust Berry Drive have been advised not to allow their pets outside without being on a leash.