Alberta dog facility employee warns others about dangers of collars after dog dies in his care

A stock photo of a dog collar and identification tag.
A stock photo of a dog collar and identification tag. The Canadian Press/Ableimages

The death of a dog at an Alberta kennel is raising awareness about potential hazards related to pet collars.

A beloved pooch died at CocoMutt Hut Pet Retreat in Medicine Hat, Alta., after its collar got caught in the jaw of another dog.

The employee involved in the incident, Bobby Klein, expressed his condolences about Sutter the dog’s death, and offered a warning to others about dog collars.

Klein told Global News that the incident happened in a matter of seconds.

“They [the two dogs] were playing, and you know how you take a collar and you hold on to one end of it and you twist it and the collar gets shorter?” he said. “That’s pretty much what happened.”

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After the dog’s death, Klein wrote a message on CocoMutt’s Facebook page.

“It’s with a heavy heart we at CocoMutt Hut would like to announce the terrible tragedy that took place here on the weekend… we had Sutter pass away because I left his collar on when he was playing with another dog outside and what happened next is self explanatory.

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“I/we have learned from this drastic mistake and will be going 100 per cent collarless at the facility,” the post continued, adding that anyone whose dogs are left unattended — even for minutes — is urged to take their collars off or to have breakaway collars.

“To the owners of Sutter, I am so sorry this has happened and will be forever sorry,” Klein’s post reads.

CocoMutt Hut Pet Retreat has been in operation for 10 months. Klein said the facility now has new protocol to never have collars on dogs there.

“As far as I’m concerned, anything could malfunction,” he said. “A breakaway collar may not break… it’s not 100 per cent fail safe.

“I have the attitude now, where I’m taking absolutely no chances around anything. Anything around a dog’s neck is just not going to be allowed here ever again.”

At Calgary’s Chasin’ Tails Dog Care Centre, their policy is to have all of their dogs on breakaway collars.

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“Generally, the strangulation [can] happen with a twist [and] if the twist happens, that buckle is going to break away — literally break,” said Chasin’ Tails’ Cindy Peacock.

“We also have 100 per cent supervision with our staff and all of our staff is first-aid trained. I’m not sure what happened at the other day care — I wasn’t there — but we’re just very, very careful about these things because they can happen anywhere.”

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“Whenever we talk about safety around dogs, supervision is always No. 1. Whether it’s at the dog park, or leaving your dog with a friend or a family member, or playing with another dog or even taking it to a dog-care facility,” said Phil Fulton, a spokesperson for the Calgary Humane Society.

In terms of a collar meant for walking your dog without them getting loose, Peacock recommended using a harness instead.

The Calgary Humane Society said supervision is the No. 1 priority and it also comes down to having the appropriate equipment for the right dog in the right situation. The humane society also said a dog collar needs to fit properly.