A Vancouver neighbourhood association claims dogs have become sick from eating rat poison being spread in a nearby park.

According to the Strathcona Residents’ Association, people working in the Cottonwood community garden have reported seeing a man scatter what looked like rat poison around Strathcona Park.

“He is reportedly not a gardener and leaves the garden or goes into the bushes when people approach. It is not clear if he is embedding the poison in food or just scattering it,” the SRA wrote in a blog post on its website.

The organization said several neighbourhood dogs have become very sick and dead rats are starting to pop up all over the park.

“I had actually seen a couple of dead rats a couple days prior, and that struck me as a bit odd,” one dog owner told CTV News. “Time to go somewhere else with the pooches…I would not want to risk any potential poisoning.”

It’s urging residents and park visitors who take their dogs off-leash to do so with caution.

The SRA described the man as 45 to 55 years old, between 5’8” and 5’10” with dark hair and a moustache. Witnesses reported seeing him carrying a dark bag.

The association is asking anyone with information to call 311, or those who have seen the man described to call the police’s non-emergency line at 604-717-3321.

Bromethalin, the toxic substance found in most rat poisons, can lead to muscle tremors, seizures and toxicosis in small animals. Owners who suspect their dog has ingested rat poison are encouraged to seek veterinary care immediately.

Both Vancouver police and the BC SPCA said they have not yet received any reports of dogs being poisoned in the park.