SAN ANTONIO - They are some of the most popular toys for pets. In fact, your dog may be chewing on one right now. However, a San Antonio woman says her dog suffered an agonizing death after playing with a rope toy, and she wants them pulled from the shelves.
The toys do present a danger many pet owners don't know about.
Lea Robinson’s one-year-old, pug-beagle mix named Perry died after two surgeries to try and repair severe internal injuries.
“He was an awesome little dog, a really amazing little guy”, Robinson told us.
She says she bought a rope toy for Perry and within minutes he tore it apart. Robinson took the mangled toy away, but had no idea Perry had ingested a chunk of string.
“It got caught in his intestine, it actually was sawing into his intestine, in other cases it can cause blockages”, Robinson says.
After Perry died, Robinson found articles about other dogs that died after playing with rope toys. She started a Facebook page to warn other pet owners.
Veterinarian Mina Youssef at Becker Animal Hospital did not treat Robinson’s dog, but he's seen similar cases where string from rope toys becomes tangled and cuts an animal's intestine.
“It is very common to see that. What it does, it can cause a lot of damage and it can cause a blockage in the intestine which basically makes the intestine twist like an accordion.”
Not only can string or strands of rope cause severe internal damage to a dog, they don't show up on x-rays. Often an ultra-sound must be performed, which can make the problem difficult and costly to detect.
Robinson says, “I want to see these particular rope toys taken off the shelf.”
She bought the toy at PetSmart, and says the company has been very responsive. It asked for copies of her vet bills for Perry, which total about $5,000. However, PetSmart hasn't said whether it will continue to sell this specific model of rope toy, which Robinson claims is flimsy.
PetSmart sent us a statement saying in part: “We are saddened at the loss of Perry, the puppy, and no words can express our deep sorrow for this family's loss. We are working with the pet parent to investigate the situation.
We require that the products we offer adhere to governmental and regulatory requirements, including those put forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Robinson says she doesn't want anything, other than reimbursement for her vet bills, and to spare other families from losing a beloved pet in the same way.
With the holidays coming up, vets also want pet owners to know that tinsel used for decoration is especially harmful if swallowed by animals. Pets should always be watched closely when playing with a new toy.