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3 On Your Side: Protecting Your Pets

By Susan Barnett

MONTGOMERY COUNTY (CBS) - It's something you would never think could lead to your dog's death.

A Montgomery County woman writes to 3 On Your Side to share her loss and to get the life-saving word out to others. CBS 3 anchor Susan Barnett has her story.

Dogs lead with their nose.

They're curious creatures and they're always looking for something to eat.

And dogs often find tempting left-overs in the trash.

Crumbs or even salt in the bottom of an empty chip bag are appetizing.

But for Diane Elwood's dog Lucy that discarded bag was a deadly hazard.

"We were probably gone for about 3 hours and when we came back in she was unconscious on the laundry room floor and her head was in a chip bag," said Diane.

She said the 4-year-old staffordshire terrier took the empty bag of chips out of the trash and tried to lick what was left inside.

But the bag got stuck on Lucy's head and she suffocated.

Diane's son found their dog.

"I heard him say that it's on her head and that he pulled it off of her head and started doing CPR," Diane explained.

Veterinarian Garret Pachtinger at Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Levittown, Pennsylvania says this kind of accident has happened over and over and many dogs have died.

There are even internet sites devoted to saving pets from suffocation.

"They put their head inside a bag trying to eat, but then they panic," says Dr. Pachtinger. "As they breath harder and harder
they essentially become enclosed and even trapped in the bag and they have a very difficult time removing that."

Pachtinger says it can happen with any snack, cereal or pet food bag.

The bag creates a seal around the animal's head.

No air can get in.

"When that bag is stuck on their head they're constantly breathing in and out that same air which becomes higher and higher in it's levels of carbon dioxide," explained Dr. Pachtinger.

"She could not get that bag off of her head, as strong of a dog as she was, it was stuck on her head," Diane said as she fought back tears.

Like many petowners, she had no idea something like this could happen.

But Diane has since learned she could have protected Lucy and she wants people to know how they can protect their pets.
Her advice is to tear or cut open the bottom of any food bag before throwing it away.

"It's just such a simple solution," says Diane. "You could save a dog's life."

Dr. Pachtinger says it can take just minutes for a dog to suffocate in this kind of situation.

He also recommends keeping lids securely on trash cans.

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