WARNING: A few images posted in this article may be difficult to look at for some readers.
On June 22, 2008, my 10-year old lab mix, Chai, sustained a severe injury from a product that the company Four Paws, Inc., produces. The toy I’m referencing is the pimple ball with bell (Item #20227-001, UPC Code #0 45663202279).
While chewing on the toy, a vacuum was created and it effectively sucked his tongue into the hole in the ball. From speaking with my vet, this likely occurred because there is not a second hole in the ball preventing the vacuum effect from happening. I became aware of this when Chai approached a friend at my home whimpering with the ball in his mouth. She tried unsuccessfully to remove the ball but the tongue had swollen and could not be released.
Chai was taken to the Animal Medical Center (an emergency care facility in New York City ) and was treated by Dr. Nicole Spurlock to have the ball removed. Because the size of the opening on the ball was so small, all circulation to his tongue was cut off. The doctors had to sedate him in order to remove it. Once the ball was removed, his tongue swelled to the point that he could no longer put it in his mouth. Chai was sent home with care instructions and to be observed overnight for any changes.
By the following morning, Chai’s tongue had swollen even more.
He was taken to his regular vet, Dr. Timnah Lee, for treatment. He was admitted and kept sedated for a period of three days during which time they were treating his wounds and waiting to determine how much of his tongue could be saved. On June 26, 2008, Chai had his tongue amputated.
He was kept in after-care for an additional three days. On Sunday, June 29th, I brought Chai home from the vet with a barrage of home care instructions, to last for an additional 7 days. His next visit was to have his mouth re-examined and have the feeding tube in his neck removed.
On the way home from the vet we stopped at Petland Discount where I purchased their product to speak to the manager on duty. Upon meeting Chai and seeing his condition, he removed all of the balls in question from the shelves. He also ga ve me the customer service number to their corporate headquarters to request that they refuse to continue purchasing all Four Paws products.
Additionally, I shared my story with friends who have a French Bulldog named Petunia. Upon hearing my story, their eyes widened. They explained that the same thing happened twice in one night with a smaller version of the same ball to their dog. Fortunately, they were able to pull it off before the tongue swelled, but not without tremendous effort and pain to the dog. They recalled how horrific it was to hear their dog screaming while they had to pry the ball from her tongue.
To date, my veterinary bills total over $5,000 and I will have regular follow up appointments for some time. Additionally, Chai now requires a much more expensive form of food beca use of this injury, averaging approximately $200 per month.
Additionally, I now have to re-teach my dog to eat, drink and adjust to life without his tongue. Feeding him takes me about 90 minutes twice a day and for at least this first week he is not to be unattended for more than 20 minutes at a time.
I sent this information along with the reference to the French Bulldog to Four Paws, Inc., and it is their position that there just aren’t enough instances to do anything about this. I told their insurance company’s case manager that was not a good enough excuse. It was inferred that my dogs value wasn’t much and that his pain and suffering don’t count as he is just a piece of property.
Please visit Chai’s blog page to find out more & for updates.
Since Chai’s story has circulated the internet & gained quite a bit of exposure, the company has announced a recall. But there are probably many, many of these toys still sitting in doggie toy boxes!