By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- These days, Hunter doesn't stray far from Michael Holisky's side.
The 7-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever is the lone survivor among Holisky's four dogs.
Holisky, 41, of Salem Township, lost the other three Labradors over five days last week to antifreeze poisoning.
One by one, the dogs stopped eating and became ill, and despite veterinarians' efforts, the dogs could not be saved.
"I was sad with the first one, and now I'm just numb," Holisky said. "I don't have any proof, but all the vets, even the pathologists in Columbus, said for this to happen to so many dogs in the same household, someone had to have fed them something with antifreeze in it."
Holisky said the dogs were well trained to stay away from the highway and didn't stray far on the adjoining 18 acres he and his mother, Jenny Less, own on Leetonia Road.
"I enjoy my property and there's a lot to do here, so when I'm off work, this is where I am," Holisky said. "When I'm in the yard, the dogs would be right here. If someone did something, I don't know how they did it."
Holisky said he said he keeps the dogs in a kennel outside during the day and in the basement at night. Sometimes his mother would have the dogs at her house during the day, but if she left for any length of time, she put the dogs in the kennel.
"I don't have any enemies that I know of," he said. "If someone is mad at me or they don't like my dogs, I wish they would have talked to me about it."
In November, Holisky had to have another dog, a Dalmatian, destroyed because of antifreeze poisoning. In that case, neighbors said they found a container with antifreeze still in it.
Neighbors said the container was in their field near Holisky's property, and it looked like someone had drained the antifreeze from a vehicle and left it there.
Holisky said the lab results from the Dalmatian and the three dogs who recently died are nearly identical.
He said he's been walking his property ever since the dogs became ill, but has found no evidence. He has made reports to both the Salem Township constable and the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department.
Holisky is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who may have poisoned his dogs.
Anyone with information may call Bill Fast, the sheriff's humane officer, at (330) 424-1104.