Owner's Urgent Warning As Dog Dies After Chewing £3 Toy Bought From Pets At Home
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A devastated owner has issued a warning after her beloved dog died after choking on a rubber ball.
Giulia Brown, from Surrey, was having breakfast in the kitchen when her 'baby' - English bull terrier Elmo - was playing in the living room with a green Sportspet ball from Pets at Home.
But a normal morning turned to utter tragedy when Elmo swallowed the ball and started choking.
As Giulia walked into the living room she could see Elmo pawing at the wall and, thinking his ball had rolled under the sofa, she went to fetch it for him.
But she quickly realised that Elmo was in fact choking, and petrified, Giulia called for her husband while trying to put her hand down his throat to remove it.
Both Giulia and her husband tried to dislodge the ball but were unable to. Instead, they rushed Elmo to the vets, which is only a two-minute drive away.
But tragically, vets were unable to revive Elmo and he sadly died.
Giulia is so traumatised that she wouldn't stay in the house for three days and is considering selling her car due to it being a terrible reminder of what happened.
"Elmo had the ball for just under a year. It was his favourite, he was absolutely obsessed with it," said Giulia.
"It was horrific to see him like that and my husband shouting and crying 'he's dying, he's dying', it was chaotic. It was like watching a member of our family die in front of us. We adored him."
The couple's other English Bull Terrier Abby, who turned one the day before Elmo passed, now constantly searches round the house for her beloved companion.
Giulia is speaking out to warn other pet owners, so no other family has to go through the same ordeal.
Elmo's death comes just weeks after the tragic death of Cane Corso puppy Donnie who also choked to death on a Sportspet solid rubber ball bought from Pets at Home.
Pets at Home says it has now removed the ball from their shelves as a 'precaution' while they investigate the incident.
Giula said: "The vet said it was a complete airway blockage and that the only way he would have survived is if she was in the room with him when it happened.
"The ball was too deep down his throat and it was completely stuck. Because it was a solid rubber ball you couldn't get round it, couldn't squeeze it, couldn't do anything. It's just solid.
"The vets explained that because it was completely smooth as well with saliva it makes it even more slippery."
Pets at Home said it had sold tens of thousands of the balls that Elmo had been playing with and explained they are widely available from other retailers including Amazon, but have withdrawn them from sale pending the outcome of the investigations.
"I trust Pets at Home as a brand so went to the store after it happened. I spoke to the manager of the branch and she removed all the balls straight away," said Giulia.
Interim guidance has also been made available to customers in store, and online, to help advise pet owners in selecting a suitable ball for their pet.
Guidance also provides safety advice to reduce the risk of choking accidents occurring, for example, always supervise your pet and never throw a ball for your pet to catch in the air.
A Pets at Home spokesman said: "The safety and welfare of pets is our top priority and we were devastated to hear about the loss of Elmo.
"We have withdrawn this product from sale as a precaution while we conduct our own internal investigation, and support Sportspet with their investigation, to understand what may have happened.
"We have also made additional guidance available to customers on the importance of selecting the correct size and shape of ball for their dog, along with advice on supervision and play recommendations.
"Our hearts go out to Mr and Mrs Brown at this incredibly difficult time and we will remain in contact with them to provide updates on the outcome of the investigations."
Sportspet has also been contacted for comment.