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An English bull terrier died on May 28 after choking on a rubber ball purchased from Pets at Home. Owner Giulia Brown, 37 years old, recalled walking into the living room to discover the dog silently choking and pawing at the wall.
Elmo, aged eight, swallowed the £3 ‘tough bounce’ ball and began choking. He was immediately taken to the veterinarian, but it was reported that he died just minutes after swallowing the ball.
Abby, the couple’s other pet English Bull Terrier, who turned one the day Elmo died, now explores the house incessantly for her friend.
Brown informed other pet owners about the hazards of the balls. Elmo died just weeks after Donnie, a Cane Corso puppy, choked on the same type of product.
Giulia said: “Elmo had the ball for just under a year. It was his favourite, he was absolutely obsessed with it. He’d play with his sister Abby with all of his other toys but it was the only toy he wouldn’t share. The ball was green. He’d played with that ball numerous times before with no problems. He didn’t deserve to go in that way.”
She continued to describe the experience by saying: “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. We’ve got no kids of our own, he was our baby and we couldn’t help him. Abby is only a puppy and has been looking for him, and now she’s not been playing.”
A representative for Pets at Home released a statement saying, “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 We have withdrawn this product from sale as a precaution while we conduct our own internal investigation, and support Sportspet with their investigation, to understand what may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.”