It is every dog owner’s nightmare. Cody Alkerton came home from an afternoon checking out the action at Crankworx in Squamish last Saturday to find his beloved dog, Oscar, dead.
What killed the 18-month old French bulldog was a danger Aklerton and most pet owners had never thought of — a chip bag.
Before they left, Aklerton's roommate had accidentally left an unfinished bag of chips on the couch and Oscar got into it.
He suffocated in the bag before his owner returned a few hours later.
When Aklerton and his roommate came into their house, they discovered the dog lifeless, with the bag over his head.
“I pulled it off his head… I tried to give him CPR," Aklerton told The Squamish Chief. We rushed him to the vet, I was doing CPR on the way to the vet, but when we got to there, they said, ‘He is gone.’”
It only takes three to five minutes for a pet to die from suffocation in snack bags, according to Preventative Vet, an education website run by a collective of veterinarians to raise awareness about pet-related issues.
Alkerton is going public with his grief in the hopes of preventing other owners and their fur babies from suffering the same fate.
“He was the most friendliest dog ever,” said Aklerton, who lives in Whistler, but is staying with family in Squamish while he recovers from the trauma of the loss.
“He was my best friend. It is pretty tough.”
A “snuggler,” Oscar accompanied Alkerton to work and almost everywhere else.
Most pet owners, about 87 per cent, don’t know that snack bags are a risk, according to Preventative Vet.
“I, like many of my friends, didn’t know that this was even a thing that could happen,” Alkerton said.
According to Preventative Vet, at least two to three pets die each week in the U.S. to chip and other snack bag suffocation. Dogs of all sizes and cats can get their heads stuck in the bags. When the pet breathes in, the bag tighten around the face, causing suffocation.
The biggest risks are snack bags — cracker, popcorn, and chip — which account for 69 per cent of suffocation deaths. Cereal, pet food and pet treat bags each account for about eight per cent of deaths.
Many people whose dogs have suffocated were gone from their house for only half an hour.
Here's what you can do to prevent this from happening to your pet:
• 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 re-sealable 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.
• Be extra vigilant during family and holiday gatherings.
• Lobby companies to add warning labels on snack/cereal/dog food bags.
For more information, go to preventpetsuffocation.com.
**Video from preventpetsuffocation.com.