Each morning, podcaster Paul Bae tries to explore a new trail in his nature-rich community in Vancouver. He lets his three pups off leash and turns on a podcast for himself. As they walk, Bae listens to wild serialized stories and revels in strange experimental soundscapes—but only through one earbud. He has to keep one ear out for his furry friends, lest they get themselves into trouble.
His hike on December 13 seemed no different than any other. But when they got home, Bae noticed something was wrong with his newest rescue, an anxious pitbull named Ella. "We got home at noon, she was totally fine, went to her space on the couch," he says. "When I call them for food, she usually jumps off the couch… This time, she was so groggy she could barely make it down the steps." Bae and his partner rushed Ella to the vet. "She carries her out and I'm like, 'What's wrong with her?'" he recalls. "And she has this wry smile on her face and says, 'Our little girl is high.'"
As best as their vet could tell, Ella had accidentally eaten the leftovers of a joint or a forgotten edible on the trail—some marijuana-infused treat most certainly not made with dogs in mind. While instances like these are few and far between, Tina Wismer, the medical director of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, told PopSci cases of pets consuming marijuana-containing products have been steadily rising. "Our cases have certainly increased over the past few years," she said via email. Case numbers are still small compared to ingestion of chocolate or ibuprofen, she added, but "veterinarians around the country have indicated an increase."