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Dog dies in owner’s arms after choking to death on ball bought at Pets at Home

Giulia Brown, from Guildford, Surrey, has warned pet owners after her English bull terrier choked to death on a Sportspet ball bought at Pets at Home

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Bull Terrier plays with ball purchased from Pets at Home

A woman’s beloved dog died in her arms after choking on a rubber ball bought from Pets at Home, she claims.

Giulia Brown was eating breakfast while her English bull terrier was playing with the Sportspet toy last month.

The 37-year-old, from Guildford, Surrey, said dog Elmo, eight, somehow swallowed the £3 ‘tough bounce’ ball and began choking.

She described how she walked into the living room to find him pawing at the wall as he silently choked.

Giulia shouted for her husband as she frantically tried to fish the ball out of Elmo’s throat.

But it was too hard to squeeze and get a first grip due to the dog’s saliva.

The couple then got 26kg Elmo into the car and raced to the vets – a two-minute drive from their home.

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Giulia said she couldn’t even go in the house after her dog died


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It is estimated Elmo died within six minutes of first swallowing the ball


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But the vets were unable to save him and only minutes after he swallowed the ball, the dog died.

Giulia said she was so traumatized by the loss on May 28 she refused to go in her home for three days and is even considering selling her car due to it being a reminder of what happened.

Abby, the couple’s other English Bull Terrier, who turned one the day before Elmo died, now constantly searches the house for her companion.

She has stopped playing at all, said Giulia, who has warned other pet owners about the potential dangers of the balls.

Giulia said Elmo had never had any issues with the ball before


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She raced him to the vet but it was too late


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Elmo’s death came weeks after Cane Corso puppy Donnie who also choked on the same type of product.

Pets at Home has removed the ball from it shelves as a precaution while it investigates, the company has said.

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.

The Sportspet ball is sold at Pets at Home


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Giulia has warned other pet owners about the dangers of the ball


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“He didn’t deserve to go in that way.”

Describing the incident, she went on to say: “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.”

She added: “Abby is only a puppy and has been looking for him, and now she’s not been playing.

“Every morning they used to play tug of war and now she’s not even asking for it, she’s just sleeping all the time. It makes it even more sad seeing her so sad.”

Giulia said the vets explained to her the way to get this sort of toy out is to punch the dog’s throat.

She said they added that normally it would take two experienced vets to perform the manoeuvre properly but it was too late for Elmo.

Giulia estimates it took just six minutes for him to choke to death.

She said his only hope was if a vet was in the room with him when he swallowed the ball.

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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.”

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