Sadness fills our hearts as we just learned of yet another dog having died as a result of playing with a pet toy. You can read the Center for Pet Safety’s article about little Darla. Injuries and deaths from something that’s supposed to be fun (and safe!) for pets to play with not only make us very angry — they make us wonder why pet toy makers are not required to do any (non-animal!) testing before they release products into the market place.
This killer toy is called the Double Dentals Dog Toy and looks like a lot of fun for dogs who like to chew and play tug. Darla’s owners purchased it at Walmart and not realizing the danger, gave it to Darla to play with. There have probably been thousands if not millions of these toys sold already and more than likely at least that many more will be sold in the future to dog owners no different than Darla’s. Just plain unsuspecting folks looking to put a little fun in their dog’s day.
Although I can see some potential dangers, I can also see where a toy like this would keep some chew-happy dogs busy for a very long time, how owners of dogs who need this kind of activity in their lives would purchase them and I can also see how it would not cross the minds of many dog owners that this toy is potentially hazardous for their dogs.
Its disturbing that the article about little Darla tells us that makers of pet products are not held to any safety standards nor are pet products such as this toy subject to recalls! Whaaaa? I have no doubt that the Center for Pet Safety knows what it’s talking about and it’s appalling that the manufacturers are allowed to get away with this. Wrong just doesn’t cover it.
To learn that the manufacturer will likely not be held responsible in any way for Darla’s death is, in our opinion, without a doubt absolutely wrong. They apparently can’t even be made responsible to pay for Darla’s vet bills which more than likely total in the thousands. A large monetary lawsuit settlement is not our point, we have no doubt that there’s no amount of money in the world that will stop Darla’s owners hearts from hurting over her loss.
Our point is that without costly, extensive legal intervention the manufacturer isn’t going to be held responsible which means there will be no incentive for dog toy manufacturers to voluntarily change what they use in toy production nor will any law force them to. How wrong is that? Manufacturers of just about everything don’t make changes in their products or manufacturing processes unless they’re forced to, and most often it has to go as far as getting bad press and publicity before they do. How many dog owners do you know who have the funding and resources to seek legal help for something like this?
While it’s true that as pet owners our pet’s safety is ultimately our responsibility, most don’t even for a minute think that something they buy for their pets might injure or worse — kill them. Even as paranoid as I am about what I give my dogs whether it be food or a toy, none of us can be perfect 100% of the time. Virtually none of us ever think that we and our pet(s) would wind up being the victims of something like this. I look at my paranoia as my way of trying to prevent anything like this ever happening to us or my furkids and hoping that by sharing stories like Darla’s that at least one more pet owner (preferably more than just one) will become more safety conscious.
Our own dogs destroy toys pretty much weekly and we simply replace them probably several times a month. We’re very lucky that what they destroy they spit out, they don’t chew on or swallow the pieces. That doesn’t mean that a stray piece is guaranteed to never not make it down the hatch and I’d be a totally irresponsible pet parent to ignore the possibility of anything bad at all ever harming my furkids. On the other hand, there’s a large number of dogs (especially puppies) that will chew on and swallow the pieces that have been chewed off.
There probably isn’t a toy made that’s 100% safe for every pet. You have to take into consideration that even if testing were done, it’s been proven over and over again that freak things do happen. Life tells us that it’s literally impossible to account for every little thing that can happen. However, pre-testing would help prevent at least some bad things from happening which in turn would help ward off some injuries and deaths. There are warnings on pet toy tags about monitoring your pet’s use of the toys which I give credit to the toy makers for including but there’s also warnings printed on packs of cigarettes that smokers ignore and continue smoking anyway. All of this falls under “Does anyone ever really read the labels or follow their directions?”
This shouldn’t excuse the need to make pet toy makers responsible for what they put in their toys and how they make them. In Darla’s case the toy that killed her was made with undigestible nylon fabric. Because there are no safety standards in place this product was allowed to be produced and sold and is a big part of what the manufacturer should be held liable for.
If you make pet toys you have to know that dogs chew and swallow things that have no business ever seeing the inside of their tummies. The bottom line is that they can warn all they want but our pet’s safety is really is up to the owner. It has to be because reality is that they’re no different than other businesses — toy makers, dog food manufacturers and makers of other pet products all have tunnel vision — their #1 priority is to make money. It’s unfortunate but true — nobody is truly going to look out for you (and your pets) but you.
I can’t blame Darla’s owners for what happened. They put their trust in this toy. People tend to trust the makers of products that we give to our children and pets. Pet owners hit the toy department, squeak a few toys and think “Oh how cute, Fido will love this!” Boom – SOLD! The manufacturers thrive on this and should return our trust by producing the safest pet products they can. To have used undigestible fabric in this toy is an inexcusable violation of our trust for which they should be held accountable. If nothing else, out of decency they should pay Darla’s vet bills and voluntarily make changes to their product(s) in the interest of safety. Just imagine what it would be like if manufacturers (of anything!) reacted with decency and did the right thing when there was a problem with one of their products? Wow! It’s mind blowing to visualize how things would change for the better.
Should there be recalls and safety standards in place for pet toy makers? Our answer is absolutely! What’s yours?
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