Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bree Almost Suffocated In A Chip Bag. Prevent Pet Suffocation

by Bonnie Harlan

On Friday, April 4, 2014, Jude Dillon arrived home from work in Norfolk, England to an all too familiar sight. Her beautiful four year old beagle, Bree, was lying unconscious and not breathing, with a family size bag of Frito Lay’s Doritos chips stuck firmly over her head and shoulders that the curious dog had pulled out of the trash bin.

Bree was one of the few lucky ones who got help in the nick of time.

Panicked and in shock, Jude began performing CPR on poor Bree who gradually started taking ragged breaths. 

Wrapping her struggling pup in a towel, Jude raced Bree to the local animal hospital where the vet quickly put her in an oxygen tank and wrapped her in heat pads to raise her dangerously low body temperature.

The vet estimated Bree would only have lasted another two or three minutes had Jude not found her in time. 

Bree is now back home playing with her loving and grateful family showing no ill side effects from her near death experience. What is different about Bree’s encounter with a chip bag is that it had a happy ending.

Most dogs are not so lucky.

Since I founded Prevent Pet Suffocation after my rescue dog, Blue, tragically suffocated in a Cheetos bag in December 2011, I am contacted regularly by devastated owners who have lost their dog to pet suffocation from a chip bag or other food packaging.

Blue tragically suffocated in a Cheetos bag in December 2011

In 2013, I documented 75 dogs that died from suffocation with 50 of them suffocating in chip bags, mostly Frito Lay products.

In 2014, I have already heard from 15 stricken pet owners whose dogs suffocated this year, 11 of these in chip bags.  

And, these are only the ones who have contacted me. The actual number is, I have no doubt, far greater.

I created Prevent Pet Suffocation to educate the public on the suffocation risks from chip bags and other food packaging.

Many people cannot fathom how a seemingly innocent chip bag weighing mere ounces could strike down a strong, healthy dog with paws and claws. 

Once the dog puts his head into these mylar-like chip bags, it creates a vacuum-like seal around the dog’s head. The more he tries to breathe, the tighter the seal becomes, and the dog is often unable to get the bag off of his head. Many stumble around disoriented, blinded by the bag, gasping for breath, until they collapse and die within minutes. Some of the struggles the pets endured are horrific, including the graphic one I witnessed when I found Blue lying lifelessly in a corner with a Cheetos bag over his head.

Believe me, you do not want to find your beloved dog like this.

The most common refrain I hear from people is “I had no idea this could happen!” And, that is a key component of Prevent Pet Suffocation - spreading the word about the suffocation risks of chip bags, and encouraging people to keep chip bags out of reach from their pets and cutting them up after use.

What can you do to help? 

Help me spread awareness about this growing problem so we can continue to save dogs’ lives!

Please sign and share my online petition that has almost 7,000 signatures now. Follow us on Twitter. Please visit my Facebook page Prevent Pet Suffocation and my website to learn how to protect your dog and home by properly disposing of chip bags and other food packaging. While you are there, watch the Memorial Photos slideshow and see for yourself many of the innocent dogs who all needlessly died.

With your help, we can fight back against these dangerous bags who show our dogs no mercy.


Bonnie Harlan is the Founder of "Prevent Pet Suffocation" which is  dedicated to spreading public awareness through her website, Facebook page,  interviews, and articles on the suffocation dangers pets face from chip bags and  other food packaging. She has a B.A. in Psychology from University of Arizona  and a MLA from Houston Baptist University. She resides in Houston, Texas with  her husband.

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me and get your story published.


  1. Thank you, Jana, for helping highlight this dangerous risk to our pets! Public awareness is the key to prevention! I so appreciate the opportunity to get the word out! Bonnie Harlan

  2. Good information and it needs to be implemented as a law for pet safety.

  3. Wow, I had no idea either, but will certainly help spread this info. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you. People not knowing the potential risk is the main part of the problem.

  4. Ever since I wrote about this topic last fall, I've heard from so many narrow-minded people who say, "Pet owners just need to use their heads. Who leaves empty chip bags just laying around anyway?" But it's not that simple. Our pets are smart, and just like children, they can get into trouble in a moment's notice when we turn our backs. Thanks for helping raise awareness. I hope your post saves many lives.

    1. It's easy to judge and be smart pants ... until something happens to you. Nobody can watch every split second. JD once stole a lamb chop, off my plate, right under my nose! That's how quick they can be. They can get into garbage too.