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Toys are a great way to keep your dog stimulated, their mind active, and they make exercise fun. However, a story from 2015 has recently been making its rounds on social media, causing dog owners to second-guess their toy purchases. This particular story hits close to home for many pet lovers, because it could happen to any of us and it could happen in an instant.
In August of 2015 Jamie Stumpf bought her 5-year-old Rottweiler, Maximus, a KONG tugger toy without giving it a second thought – few dog owners would. We often assume that if it’s on the shelf at a pet store it must be safe for our pets; and most pet owners are familiar with KONG, their toys are known for being durable and most dogs love them.
Maximus was playing happily with his new toy one night when Jamie’s son, Tyler, noticed that the ball on one end of the toy came off and seemed stuck in his mouth. Jamie checked but everything seemed fine, and the family went to bed that night without worrying. In the middle of the night Maximus jumped on Jamie, and she noticed he still had the ball in his mouth. When she reached in to take it, she was unable to pull it away.
Unlike other KONG toys, the ball was a part of a tugger toy, and wasn’t meant to be used on its own, but came apart from the rest of the toy. Most KONGS have a large hole on one side for treats to be inserted, and a small hole on the other to avoid suction and make cleaning easier. The large hole on this toy was meant to have a rope attached, and did not include a small hole. Max’s chewing caused some suction, and his tongue became stuck inside the ball. Overnight, his tongue swelled inside of the toy, and he was rushed to an animal hospital to have the ball removed.
The hospital staff was able to take the toy from Maximus’ mouth, but would not be able to save his tongue. In an interview with FOX 5 San Diego, Jamie says, “Yeah, I’m not going to let our dog live without a tongue. It’s stupid.”
KONG has since discontinued the tugger toy that caused Jaime’s heartbreak, but it won’t bring Maximus back. Remember to keep a close eye on your pets during playtime – even heavy duty toys that were made for rough play can fall apart. If you see your dog’s toys falling apart or wearing down, it’s time to gift your pet with a new one. As harmless as it may seem, it’s worth it to avoid another unnecessary death.