meatball poisoning in dogs during French Canicross race
Credits: Gard Gendarmerie

On March 12, 2023, more than 50 poisoned meatballs were discovered at the cross-country race site in France, killing 3 dogs within 15 minutes after eating them — another death recorded days after.

The meatballs were pretty solid, we could see some seeds on them and that was poison,” reports a pet owner.

“…I immediately took out the meatball she had in her mouth but 20 minutes later, my dog was dead.”

French police investigated the scene in the southern town of Vauvert and found poison pellets on meatballs.

They were just suffocating with all the foam and everything,” event organizer Dr. Bérengère Poletti said in an interview with the New York Times.

Organizers canceled the event and closed the site immediately after 3 dogs started vomiting and convulsing.

4 dogs died in French Canicross race due to poisoned meatballs
Clockwise from top left: Palma, Oslo, and Opale were the dogs killed in a poisoning incident at a race in France | Dr. Bérengère Poletti

I don’t know who did this, what are the reasons, but it’s just horrible,” said Dr. Poletti. 

According to authorities, the perpetrator must have worn gloves to hide their fingerprints.

Investigators reviewed CCTV footage and sent DNA samples from the deceased dogs to a lab in Lyon to determine what poison was used.

Furthermore, the offender will be charged with acts of animal cruelty — a $79k fine (75k euros) and a 5-year prison sentence — once caught. 

The 4 poisoned dogs were about to be set for the final round — winners of which qualify for the World Canicross championships in Germany in October 2023.

The Canicross is a canine race with its owners that has become increasingly popular in France recently.

Meta Description: On March 12, 2023, more than 50 poisoned meatballs were discovered at the cross-country race site in France killing 3 dogs within 15 minutes.


Compassion for pets is fuel to Lenin's lifelong mission. As a fur mom to a Havanese dog and 6 stray cats, Lenin sees the joy in rescuing and giving pets a chance at a forever home. Even in her career as a freelancer, Lenin focused on writing everything about pets — from breed profiles to nutrition down to some of their interesting facts.