We’ve all seen those videos where pets become involved with trash sometimes ending up wearing a bag or a can until someone arrives to assist them. What we may not have considered is that these situations can easily become life threatening to pets when containers such as plastic bags have had enough air pressed out of them to create a seal around an animal’s head (or in their airway) preventing the animal from getting air.
Bonnie Harlan’s rescue dog, Blue, suffocated on a chip bag in December of 2011. He was only 4 years old. It just had never occurred to Bonnie that something as inoffensive as a 9-ounce chip bag could cause the death of her beloved pet. It left such an impression on her that she established Prevent Pet Suffocation (a 501(c)3) in 2012 to provide education on suffocation hazards posed to animals by chip bags and other food packaging items.
She wants people to understand that just because dogs are strong and flexible that it doesn’t mean they will always be able to remove chip bags with their paws or be able to chew through them. Any pet can suffocate. She writes, “No dog, from a tiny teacup poodle to a massive Great Dane, can win a fight with a chip bag or other plastic bag over his head once the bag seals and he starts to lose oxygen.” Cats are at risk, too. And suffocation can be complete in less than 5 minutes.
Bonnie’s website, PreventPetSuffocation.com, is loaded with good information including the following protective tips:
-Keep all chip/snack/pet food bags safely stored away from your pet.
-Tear or cut up all chip bags and food bags after use.
-Store chips/snacks/pet food in resealable plastic containers.
-Serve chips and snacks in glass bowls or containers instead of in bags.
-Keep all trash can lids tightly fastened, locked, or behind a cabinet.
-Keep kitchen pantry door closed.
-Learn CPR for pets.
-Do not allow your pets to roam freely in the house while you are away.
-Alert all your friends and family about the suffocation dangers of bags.
-Educate pet sitters and babysitters about pet suffocation prevention.
National Prevent Pet Suffocation week is the week after Thanksgiving each year, but we should be mindful every day. Please visit www.PreventPetSuffocation.com on the web or Prevent Pet Suffocation on FB for more information. Spread the word on social media. The pet you save may be your own.