A FAMILY who were holidaying in west Cornwall have been left devastated after their beloved pet dog was fatally poisoned eating a substance washed up on Long Rock beach.
Lucy Garrett-Peel and her daughter Cicely are still in shock after their miniature schnauzer, Zanzi, became ill and died within two days of eating what has been identified as non-toxic palm oil, which washed up on several beaches around the Cornish coast.
The Garrett-Peels, from Wiltshire, were enjoying a walk on the beach when they noticed the dog had wandered off.
"I noticed he was eating something. I had seen it all over the beach; I went to pick it up, it was really unpleasant and the smell was like nothing I have come across," said Mrs Garett-Peel.
Zanzi quickly became distressed and was having difficulty breathing shortly after consuming the substance.
The worried owners rushed the three-year-old dog to Mount's Bay Veterinary Centre, where he was given an emergency operation to remove the substance which had formed a glue-like blockage in his insides. Sadly the vets were unable to save him.
Mrs Garett-Peel said the incident has devastated 14-year-old Cicely who was at the beach with her mum.
"The dog was her shadow, they were uniquely close. It's just a shock and it's made me so angry. It was a totally preventable incident."
Mrs Garett-Peel is now calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.
She added: "It's appalling these ships can do this. Who knows what damage it has done to the sea life? I would like an apology. I would like the recognition that they have done something wrong and for them to take responsibility for the distress."
The substance was identified by Public Health England as palm oil, which is thought to have turned rancid.
It was located on beaches in Penzance, Praa Sands and Porthcurno more than two weeks ago, forcing the council to put up warning signs.
Penzance vets were inundated with calls from worried pet-owners and saw several cases of dogs who had taken ill after eating the rancid oil.
Although not harmful to humans, it proved to be extremely potent to dogs.
St Ives MP Andrew George said he was concerned the source of the pollution had not yet been identified and he urged maritime authorities to track down the culprit responsible.
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "We are looking into the matter to try and establish the source of the pollution."