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Scientist Studying Wildlife Poisoning Finds His Rescue Dog Poisoned to Death

Scientist Studying Wildlife Poisoning Finds His Rescue Dog Poisoned to Death

UPDATE: The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who killed Nyxo the dog with rat poison been increased to $20,000.  This is due to the Animal Legal Defense Fund adding $10,000 to the reward offered by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Please spread the word and ask anyone with any possible information to report it to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the tip line at 707-268-2539.

Nyxo needs justice!

A family dog named Nyxo was deliberately poisoned by an unknown assailant at his home last month. Nyxo died a horrible death from the anticoagulant commonly found in rat poison. His human, Dr. Mourad Gabriel, is a research scientist studying the effects of the substance brodifacoum on wildlife in California’s Pacific Southwest. Brodifacoum is commonly found in rat poisons like the brand name d-Con. “It was a cowardly act of violence,” Dr. Gabriel told me.

Police are concerned there may be a connection between Dr. Gabriel’s work and Nyxo’s death by poisoning due to the location of his work. Dr. Gabriel’s studies take him to the National Parks and Sacred Tribal lands, where illegal planting and cultivation of marijuana occur. These criminals are causing havoc on the environment by diverting water for the marijuana plants and using poisons to keep rodents and other wildlife away. For a more detailed explanation of his work, watch this video.

Nyxo’s Story

What makes this tragedy even more devastating is Nyxo himself. He was a rescue dog who was originally fostered by the Gabriel family 10 years ago before they adopted him. He was a young Labrador mix who was found on the side of a road with a broken leg. It is not known exactly how he arrived there, but the thought is someone used him for target practice or dropped him out of a car. Understandably, he had a lot of trust issues with the human race.

With time, love and patience, Nyxo came to trust people again and went on to become a role model for other foster dogs in the family. Even the neighborhood children enjoyed a happy relationship with Nyxo, and volunteered to take him for walks. He often accompanied Dr. Gabriel on his work outings in the parks and was beloved by all of the scientists and other workers.

Drawing the neighborhood children made in memory of Nyxo. All photos used are with permission of Dr. Gabriel.

The night Nyxo was poisoned, he had been let out in his fenced-in yard for his last pit stop of the evening. Dr. Gabriel said when he came in, he seemed a bit lethargic but went right to his dog bed and lay down. By the morning he was shivering, drooling and had vomited chunks of red meat.

This was the clue that made Dr. Gabriel decide to bring him to his veterinarian. Nyxo was only fed dry kibble, not meat of any kind. He observed the meat was not from a wild animal that may have entered the yard as there were no bones or fur in Nyxo’s vomit or stool and the meat had obviously been cut with a knife.

On the way to the vet’s office, Nyxo slipped into a coma. Once there, it was determined this was a case of intentional poisoning.  The only thing to do was humanely euthanize Nyxo. Dr. Gabriel reports that when the family entered the room to say their goodbyes to Nyxo, he must have smelled or heard their presence, as he awoke from his coma. At least Nyxo had the opportunity to leave this world surrounded by those who loved him and who he adored.

The Investigation

Nyxo’s poisoning was reported to the local authorities who are taking it very seriously. They went throughout the neighborhood to determine if any other pets had fallen prey to random poisoning. They discovered they had not. The current theory is that Nyxo was targeted due to Dr. Gabriel’s work. It could be the illegal marijuana growers or those involved with Brodifacoum production. Dr. Gabriel’s published studies have scientifically proven wildlife are being poisoned from the rat poison chemical which causes internal bleeding.

Nyxo in happier days

“I’m a little optimistic that Nyxo’s death was simply a random act of violence,” said Dr. Gabriel “and not a result of my work.” Nothing has been proven yet and he doesn’t want to point fingers at anyone until all the facts are known.

Dr. Gabriel had contacted local shelters to seek assistance in getting the community to pull together to find any information about who killed Nyxo and why. Surprisingly, he told me the shelters didn’t want to get involved because they felt this case was “too political,” referring to his work and the illegal marijuana component.

However, the Center for Biological Diversity stepped up to the plate and created a petition on Care2 and set a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nyxo’s killer. A call to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office confirms they have no leads at this time. Since this crime is a felony, the sherriff’s office has three years to activley investigate. Consideration of referring this case to federal authorities found it did not meet juristictional guidelines.

What You Can Do

If anyone has information about this case please contact Deputy Matthew Helm at the Humboldt County Sherriff’s Office: 707-445-7251 or the tip line at 707-268-2539

Sign the Care2 petition

Donate to the reward fund

Spread the word through social media about this case and ask people to report any information to the Sheriff’s Office.

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193 comments

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6:04PM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

Unbelievable! So sad... :(

3:07AM PDT on May 19, 2014

Poor little Nyxo! If I knew who did this, they wouldn't have to pay me any reward. I'd gladly turn them in. I sure hope they find the creep!!

7:19AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

I want to sign the petition but it's close, please re-open it so to get more people to sign.
Whoever did such evil act shall be punished the same way by slowly poisoning to death, these days there are more and more evil on this planet, therefore, I believe an eye for an eye so all the coward bastards experience the pain they inflict on animals!!! They will die in extreme pain when it comes to judgement day even if they don't get caught. Karma treats fairly across the universe, no one can get away at the end.

8:48PM PDT on Mar 16, 2014

This is among the worst stories lately. I hope they catch the sadistic creep and fry him. I am not so sure I would be thinking random act though. Too coincidental. However, if the dog was running anywhere where the Wildlife dis-Service was poisoning they would not admit it and a pot grower sure wouldn't either.

11:37AM PDT on Mar 16, 2014

Sad story, hope they find person/s doing this.

4:13PM PDT on Mar 11, 2014

So sad, people are so cruel...

7:39PM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

EVIL people.

10:31AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

May an even worse fate befall the ones who are responsible for this!

9:41AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

So sad.

1:20AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

This is very tragic, Nyxo suffered a cruel fate. It is unnerving, especially if it turns out to be revenge for the type of research that the research scientist is conducting. Killing a dog by poison to get back at someone is both cruel and devastating if that is what happened. This could have been ruthless revenge or even a cruel person in the neighbourhood who poisons animals and have nothing to do with his research. Either way, this person must be apprehended.

"I’m a little optimistic that Nyxo’s death was simply a random act of violence,” said Dr. Gabriel “and not a result of my work.”

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