PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Household pets have a tendency to get into the trash.
What many people may not realize, though, is that something in the garbage could be deadly.
By nature, dogs are curious creatures.
They like to sniff and sample the world around them and often that means getting into table scraps or left-overs.
They’ll even go after tiny crumbs at the bottom of a chip bag.
Many people might not think it’s a big deal, or that it’s just what pets do.
That’s what Bonnie Harlan thought until December of last year.
She went to the grocery store for about an hour, when she got home, her dog wasn’t waiting at the door like usual.
“I went all through my house, twice, under every bed, could not find him, called his name, he did not answer,” Harlan said.
Harlan walked past her game room and that’s when she saw 4-year-old, 50 pound, blue.
“I saw him, crumpled up in the corner of the game room, with a Cheetos bag completely covering his head,” Harlan said.
Harlan ripped the bag off and started CPR, but it was too late.
Blue had suffocated, from a bag he got out of the trash.
Harlan was devastated.
Once the shock wore off, she began doing some research and discovered, pet suffocation isn’t uncommon.
“When the dog puts his head into the bag, the Mylar material creates a vacuum, like suction around their necks, so as the dog is licking the crumbs or whatever out of the bag, he is breathing into it, creating a suction,” Harlan said.
It can happen with pretty much any type of bag.
Now Harlan is on a mission to spread the word.
While she continues to contact companies like Frito-Lay about adding warning labels to package she encourages pet owners to take precautions at home.
“Tear up your chip bags after use, cut them up, tear them up, just so they can’t create that suffocation risk,” Harlan said.
Harlan has set up a prevent pet suffocation Facebook page where people all across the country have shared their painful stories.
She hopes awareness helps protect other pets.