CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Christina Young took to Facebook to share her heartbreaking story: she came home from work Monday to discover her dog dead, his head inside an empty chip bag.
Her warning to other pet owners about the dangers of snack bags quickly went viral with more than 430,000 shares.
“We've had a couple of clients who have lost animals to it. It's much more common than even I realized,” said Dr. Allison Jones, a veterinarian at the Mint Hill Animal Hospital. “It's hard to find snacks that aren’t in those types of bags. They start breathing heavily and it can pull in and cover their mouth and nose so they can't breathe.”
And unfortunately, it happens far too often.
One nonprofit, Prevent Pet Suffocation, has documented almost 600 cases just recently.
Their photos posted to Facebook as both a tribute and warning, shared by owners overwhelmed with grief and guilt.
“I felt it too. Like I nearly killed my dog,” Dr. Jones said. Her own dog, Sophie, nearly died the same way.
“She had her entire head in it and was still conscious, but was very close to suffocating. It took a few minutes to return to normal after I took the bag off. It definitely hit home when it happened to my dog because I knew it was a possibility but I just you think it won't happen to you.”
A change.org petition was posted online asking snack companies to add warning labels on the bags. The online petition has almost 13,000 signatures.
“Just like little kids you can't leave them for a few seconds thinking they'll be OK,” Dr. Jones said. “Because something could happen really quickly”
If you don't want to avoid buying bags of chips altogether, you should secure them inside zip lock bags and put them away.
And before you toss the empty bags in the trash, Dr. Jones says you should cut them open, in case your pet gets ahold of it.