TAMAREE couple Phil Weaver and Jamie Lee are convinced the death of three pet dogs in a matter of days is the result of baiting.
The ongoing nightmare is becoming a strain for the Gympie couple, fearful for their remaining pets and the safety of their two children.
Mr Weaver, settling down after a tour of Afghanistan with the Australian Army, and his partner moved to their Tamaree property six months ago after renting at Cedar Pocket.
But what at first seemed like paradise turned sour for the couple late last month when the first of three dogs suddenly died.
Mr Weaver had taken the dog, a wolfhound, for a walk to check the couple's chook shed.
The dog wandered off and wouldn't return when Mr Weaver whistled.
"Usually I just whistle and the dogs come straight to me but this time the dog didn't return right away," Mr Weaver said.
Eventually the dog re-emerged but was unsteady on its feet. "The dog was twitching and having difficulties walking," Mr Weaver said.
He threw the dog on his quad bike and returned home only for the dog's condition to deteriorate rapidly.
The animal soon began frothing at the mouth and within 30 minutes had died.
"It was my wife's dog," Mr Weaver said. "It was hard to watch."
Shocked by the rapid onset of symptoms, Mr Weaver chalked up the sad loss as the result of a snake bite.
Days later, another trip to the chook shed produced a shockingly similar set of circumstances.
A second dog belonging to the couple brought back a putrid chunk of meat it had found in the bush. Not long later, it died a similar death to the first.
Mr Weaver and a friend went investigating upon seeing the foul-smelling meat.
"I knew the direction the dog had come from with the meat so I went for a walk with a friend and we found what looked like offal," he said.
Sparking his suspicion of baiting were the many dead flies all over the meat.
"I became convinced then it was baiting," he said.
Further cementing Mr Weaver's belief someone was targeting his dogs with baits was the loss of a third dog not long later.
The couple had returned home from shopping and found their pet was untethered.
Mr Weaver said it was a possibility, albeit remote, the dog had found a way to come off its chain but thought a more likely scenario was someone had let it loose.
The dog quickly began to fall violently ill and a desperate Mr Weaver acted on vet advice, washing the animal's mouth with soap and using a stream of water from a hose to try to induce vomiting. It was a futile attempt.
"It was heartbreaking and I couldn't watch this happen again," said a downcast Mr Weaver, who shot the dog to shorten its suffering.
All three deceased dogs are now buried on the property and the couple is worried for the welfare of their remaining dogs, for which they have the appropriate permits.
"I'm worried this will happen again," Mr Weaver said. "Why would someone want to bait the dogs?
"I'm losing sleep at night and worried all the time."
Beyond the welfare of his remaining dogs, Mr Weaver is concerned for his two children, aged one and four.
"I'm overprotective," he said.
"I don't let my kids go beyond the cement (a small area beside the home's side entrance) for fear they will come into contact with the baits."
Mr Weaver has good reason for his concern. The third dog to die found laced meat behind a shed about 20 metres from the house.
The Tamaree couple is desperate for answers and feel tormented on their own property.
The chemical Mr Weaver believes is being used, after making a number of inquiries, is Ficam.
Ficam is a residual spray for control of a wide range of insect pests in and around domestic, industrial, commercial and public service buildings and in other situations.