LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) – Police are investigating a possible poisoning after 12 animals who were taken to the Kent County Youth Fair became sick and one died.
It happened over the weekend at the annual fair in Lowell, according to Lowell police. Nine rabbits and three horses fell ill, and one of the rabbits died.
Lowell Police Chief Steve Bukala told 24 Hour News 8 investigators suspect someone poisoned an open water source – like the one that 24 Hour News 8 found near a faucet outside the rabbit barn – possibly with antifreeze.
Bukala said whoever did it appeared to have done it on purpose.
“It does not appear to be an accident,” he said. “It appears to be deliberate.”
Saturday night, some of the animals – which are raised and groomed by children for a showing at the county fair – started showing signs of illness.
“The rabbits were showing some signs of heat stroke, but after a vet took a better look at one of the animals, he determined that it was showing some signs of toxic poisoning,” Bukala said.
The veterinarian who examined the rabbit that died said its organs crystallized, which is a sign of antifreeze poisoning.
Bukala said he thinks someone may have put the poison in a water container that all the kids used to supply to their rabbits.
“They did see a white female — that’s all the information we know at this time — feeding some of the horses and as they approached her, she took off on foot and got lost in the crowd,” Bukala said.
Bukala said that while it’s unclear whether she had anything to do with the situation, investigators want to talk to her.
Jessica Marks, manager of the Kent County Youth Fair, told 24 Hour News 8 the rabbits that fell ill had open water containers. She said fair staff is considering whether to insist that all of the animals at the fair have closed water containers in 2015.
According to Bukala, the surviving rabbits and the three horses are doing okay, and his department will continue to investigate why they got sick.
If police determine that someone deliberately poisoned the water and he or she is convicted of the crime, he or she could spend up to four years in prison.