Every dog owner should read this. In fact, every dog LOVER should read this and then pass it on to prevent further tragedies. This story is about a common mistake that can potentially happen in every single day household. Sadly for one dog owner, the warnings come too late to help herself.

Whether you’re pro-crate training or against, one thing is for certain– Many dogs need to be crated when unsupervised for a single, resounding reason: to remain safe. It’s unfathomable to think that the one place a dog is supposed to be safe can actually be the cause of her demise. But that’s the reality for one broken-hearted family.

In a viral Facebook post, a woman shares a story about her beloved five-year-old Boston Terrier named Emmie. When Courtney Sexton Gresham went to work, she put Emmie in her crate like she did every morning. Emmie had a large crate with plenty of room to stand up, turn around, lie comfortably and even play a bit so she wasn’t cramped or uncomfortable while her owners were away.

Courtney Sexton Gresham/Facebook

Courtney Sexton Gresham tells the story best herself:

“Emmie was a beautiful, healthy (had just had a vet check-up last week – said she was in “perfect health”), five-year-old Boston Terrier we loved with every ounce of our being. She brought so much fun, personality, light, and love into our lives. She never met a stranger – whether it be cat, dog, or person. We tried to take her so many places with us – kayaking, on boats, to run fast as she could in the country, for car rides, to friends’ houses – you name it.”

“On Tuesday morning before leaving for work, Emmie and I did our usual routine… (my husband just happened to be out of town with work, he works from home a lot of days)… she went out in the yard to potty, she had a little breakfast and so did I, I threw a few treats around the kitchen for her to chase and pounce upon before eating, and I put her in her (extra-extra-large) wire metal crate before leaving. She didn’t like the crate much (who could blame her?); she’d MUCH rather be with Brent or myself… but we have to go to our jobs. I blew her a kiss, told her bye, and said that I’d see her after work.”

Courtney Sexton Gresham/Facebook

“I left work a little early and got home that afternoon. I opened the back door and immediately saw Emmie up on her back legs in the crate. I ran to her to find that her COLLAR was hung on a part of the metal crate near the top. In tears and screaming, I opened the door and unhooked the hung part of her collar. She was unresponsive. I rushed her to the emergency vet to see if they could save her… but sadly, it was too late. The vet called it a freak accident. She was trying to open the kennel door, her collar got hung on a jutted-out piece of the crate, and she had been strangled.”

“We had NO idea of the dangers of having a collared pet in a crate. We’re all fairly well-educated people, and we had NEVER thought about this at all. I have since read so much on the internet about how this can happen. A collar (or the tags on a collar) can get hung in a crate, a collar can get hung on another dog/or in another dog’s mouth when two dogs are playing together, a collar can get hung on a doorknob (if a dog jumps just right), a collar can get hung on a low tree branch… and these can be fatal to the dog. We learned this the hard way. So many “what ifs” and “why didn’t I do this” are plaguing our minds.”

Courtney Sexton Gresham/Facebook

Gresham then adds, selflessly, to warn others:

“**I beg you to NEVER PUT A COLLARED ANIMAL IN A CRATE. Take off the collar. Or at the least, get a “break-away” collar. I had never heard of these collars, but if they get caught on anything, they immediately break open, and free the dog.**”

What Emmie’s family has suffered is unimaginable but this freak accident now plays as a warning to us all. No family should have to suffer this fate but Gresham wants us to at least learn from this mistake.

She continues:

“I didn’t know whether to share this story or not. I feel so guilty that it happened. Now in hindsight, I see so many ways it could have been prevented. But if it saves even ONE dog’s life, it’s worth it to share.”

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In a blog post published by Animal Behavior College Blog, that Gresham adds to her Facebook post as well, author Fanna Easter discusses the hidden dangers of dog collars that many of us don’t even think about.

Easter, a professional dog trainer, also experienced her dog’s ID tag getting caught on the crate. She writes:

“Now, understand, I didn’t leave him in his crate with a collar on. He chose to lie next to his crate when his ID tag became entangled within the wires of his crate. When it happened, he freaked out! Thank goodness we were home to hear his panicked screams and frantic sounds from pulling against his crate; he was choking himself. It took two people to free him from his collar; my husband and I had to cut the collar off of him. From that day forward, he never walked into that room again—ever.”

Thankfully, Easter’s dog was okay, traumatized but okay, but not all dogs have been so lucky. She reports that a whopping 15% of her clients have ‘experienced dog strangulation by collar.’

And that ‘15% of Easter’s clients had a similar incident with a dog collar getting caught on the wires of their dogs’ crate, fence, furniture, and even while playing with another dog.’

These scenarios don’t always involve a crate so what do we need to know to prevent accidents like these in our homes? By being informed!!!

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Scenario 1

Dog collar strangulation during playtime

Think back to your glorious prepubescent years of metal braces and first kisses. Many of us were ‘warned’ never to kiss another brace-face because of what may happen if the two lovebirds got stuck together … and of the painful, embarrassing outcome that would ruin your reputation for the rest of your life.

It was an unlikely scenario, but still, we worried about it.

However, the canine version is definitely possible. Dog ID tags can get caught to another collar (or ID tag) or muzzle, paw, body part of another dog while playing.

Easter writes:

“The first time I heard of a dog being strangled by a collar, it was 20 years ago and happened while two dogs were playing together. Both dogs were wearing collars when one dog playfully pulled on the other dog’s collar. Her muzzle suddenly became tangled in the other dog’s collar. Well, the tangled dog panicked and started pulling away, which caused the other dog (the one wearing the tangled collar around his neck) to choke. His collar was strangling him. Thankfully, someone nearby had a pocket knife and cut the tangled collar, which freed both dogs. What a horrifying situation.”

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How to prevent this:

Option #1

If playtime is happening in a safe location, in a fenced-in yard or inside a house, go ahead and remove your dog’s collar.

Option #2

Opt for a collar with your dog’s info embroidered on it or etched into the metal buckle. This will do away with hanging tags completely. Also, purchase a breakaway collar. These are designed for this very reason. With enough force and pressure, the collar will fall open and Fido will be okay!

Scenario 2

Dog collar strangulation by furniture, toys, fences, etc.

Again, the above options apply. Your dog does not need to wear his collar when he is safely indoors but if you prefer that he does, opt for a breakaway collar that is personalized.

Also, your dog should be supervised at all times. Try to keep him in the same room as you, if possible. If he’s a mischievous playful puppy then by all means, keep him safely confined if you can’t keep a close eye on him. This is not a punishment, this is an insurance policy. A safe dog is a happy dog!

Scenario 3

Dog collar strangulation inside crate

How to prevent this:

REMOVE your dog’s collar before putting him inside the crate. Simple. Also, choose a crate that is the best size for your dog. He should be able to comfortably stand up and turn around but should not have too much room to get into trouble.

Crate time is for rest time, not play time. If you are going to be away from home for long periods of time, opt for a dog walker or a dog sitter who can make quick playtime visits. Check out Rover.com (they have an easy to use app that we LOVE!)

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Most importantly, have your dog microchipped! It’s the safest line of defense if your dog runs away.

Also, make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date! When you change addresses or phone numbers, you must update your dog’s chip! This is easy to do. Just go onto the microchip’s site and follow the instructions.

Ask your veterinarian about any other suggestions to keep your pet safe. Your doggo’s doc is happy to help!

No one expects their dog to get hurt in a freak accident but the reality is, it can happen. Do your part to prevent what you can. And share this story to warn others about the hidden dangers of dog collars.

Do you have any stories or suggestions? Please feel free to share with us in the comment section. We love hearing from you!