Christian Villareal knew something was wrong when he got home and his regular greeter failed to show. Petey the pit bull cross met him at the door every day, but this time he was nowhere to be seen. Villareal subsequently found Petey’s body in the kitchen, and the horrifying scene revealed the cause of the dog’s untimely passing.
Christina Young is from Houston, Texas, and until very recently she lived happily with her partner Christian Villareal and their pit bull cross Petey. On February 26, 2018, she posted a heartbreaking message on Facebook announcing Petey’s death. And the scary thing is, the same fate could befall any pet.
That’s because Petey’s death was caused by something found in many homes across the U.S. The family’s ordeal began a week prior to the announcement. Like on any normal morning, Young kissed Petey goodbye before both she and Villareal left for work.
Little did Young know, but that was the last time she would see Petey alive. You see, while the dog’s humans were out of the house, something tragic happened that led to the animal’s death. However, the couple wouldn’t learn of Petey’s fate until they returned home later that day.
It was actually Villareal who got back first. And although he suspected something was amiss, he didn’t realize the magnitude of the problem immediately. On February 26, 2018, Villareal wrote on Instagram, “I came home and was not greeted at my door like usual.”
“I thought Petey was hiding from guilt from getting on the couch,” Villareal continued. If only that were the case; unfortunately, the real reason for the dog’s absence was far more serious. Indeed, when Villareal went to find Petey, he discovered just how much worse the reality was.
His search led him to the dining room, which is where he found Petey. However, the dog didn’t greet him with a sheepish look and with his tail between his legs. Instead, Petey was lying inert on the floor, the cause of his death still attached to his face.
Ten minutes later Young arrived home, and the terrible news devastated her. On February 22, 2018, she posted a message on Instagram. “I feel like I have been living my worst nightmare,” she wrote. Furthermore, she revealed that the couple blamed themselves for Petey’s death.
“There is no way to describe the sadness, guilt, and emptiness we feel in our hearts and our home,” Young continued. As a consequence, the couple vowed to warn other pet owners about what happened to Petey. They hope to prevent others suffering similar heartache because of an overlooked danger.
Villareal used Instagram to reveal what caused Petey’s unfortunate demise. “I discovered my poor sweet boy lifeless in our dining room with a chip bag over his head,” he wrote on February 26, 2018. Apparently, the couple had left the bag out on the countertop, unaware of the dangers it might pose.
“[Petey] got it off our counter,” Villareal continued, “and after eating all the chips he went back for crumbs and got the bag stuck over his head. Each time he tried to get some, he inhaled causing the bag to tighten, ultimately resulting in suffocation.”
The couple were distraught and also confused by their pet’s death. They’d known Petey to be an intelligent dog, so why couldn’t he have used his paws to remove the bag? Further investigation into the matter soon answered their questions.
“After doing research, the stats on how often this happens is shocking,” Young stated. “Three to five pet suffocations get reported every week, and 42 percent of those occur while the owner is in the next room.” So, while it’s probably of no comfort to the couple, it’s possible Petey could have suffocated even if they were home.
Furthermore, Young realized that Petey probably didn’t have time to free himself. “It only takes about three minutes for their oxygen to drop to fatal levels,” she revealed. Perhaps the most shocking thing she discovered, though, was that so few pet owners seemed aware of the dangers posed by bags.
“In fact, [in] 90 percent of the incidents reported, the owner had never heard of this until it happened to them (us included),” Young said. And it’s not just potato chip bags that can be deadly, either. In fact, any bagged product is a potential risk.
Meanwhile, Michael San Filippo from the American Veterinary Medical Association admitted that his organization is usually more preoccupied with whatever is inside the bag, rather than the bag itself. That said, he readily agreed that owners need to do all they can do lessen the risk of a tragedy such as the one that befell Petey.
“We’ve seen the bags can be deadly,” San Filippo told Today on February 28, 2018. He suggested the best way to prevent such accidents is to tear apart loose bags so that pets can’t asphyxiate themselves. He also recommended placing bags out of the reach of your pets.
Moreover, although choking on bags seems to be a bigger problem than many realize, there are people out there raising awareness. Aside from Young and Villareal, Bobby Harlan is also warning pet owners about the risk of suffocation. Sadly, Harlan’s own dog Blue suffered the same fate as Petey in 2011.
As a result, Harlan founded a movement called Prevent Pet Suffocation in an attempt to avert further deaths. The group also offers comfort to people who have lost animal companions through asphyxiation, as well as providing advice on how to react should a pet get into difficulty.
Young, meanwhile, simply wants to prevent other dog owners from experiencing her heartbreak. “I just ask that in honor of my boy Petey that you be extra careful,” she wrote on Facebook. “Warn other dog owners, and give your fur babies some extra love today, and every day after this.”