Why You Should Never Leave a Restrained Dog Unattended
By Meghan Heeter
When going to the groomers, many dogs get scared and nervous. Low whining, non-stop pulling at the leash, and darting toward front-door-freedom are all part of the routine. No stranger to this kind of behavior, my three year-old Brussels Griffon, Pi, was extra jumpy when I dropped her off for a haircut with a new groomer on June 15, 2012.
I got Pi as a 10-week-old puppy and the moment I looked at her I knew life wouldn’t be the same. It was Halloween 2008 and there must’ve been a full moon because I somehow convinced my husband to get a second dog. At first, he was against bringing a new puppy into our home, but once I mentioned that I wanted to name her “Pi,” his inner math geek started to warm up to the idea. I think he pictured a studious and demure dog with glasses and a tweed jacket sitting quietly by the fire. Miss Pi, however, was more like a tornado in a tank top.
She was a scraggly, mischievous, and loud little thing that pooped on my arm during our first day together. She resembled a deranged Ewok with her crooked teeth, scruffy beard, and buggy eyes. Full-grown at 11 pounds, she began to rule our 1,200-square-foot brick bungalow home. She discovered joy in shredding paper, barking at bare walls, and terrorizing our Wheaten Terrier, Badger.
Yet, with all her mania and self-assurance, she was just a “love bug” and depended on me completely. She never left my side and wouldn’t even let me take a shower without nudging open the bathroom door and taking her place on the bath mat. She liked to snuggle while we watched movies on the couch. She would fall asleep on my chest, and I loved feeling our hearts beat together.
I was Pi’s protector. When frightened, she would use my legs as her fortress, hiding behind them until I picked her up and held her tight. After suffering a fall from our bed, we spent several thousand dollars with a surgeon to mend her broken leg. I was there to nurse her back to health and our bond grew even stronger.
Pi was everything to me.
But even with all my motherly caution, I wasn’t able to protect Pi in the end. She died alone, hanging by a neck restraint over the side of a cold bath tub at the groomers.
The groomer had secured Pi with the restraint in an empty bath tub and then left to attend to another dog. When the groomer returned, she found Pi’s lifeless body hanging outside of the tub. It was too late to do anything. Pi had jumped out of the tub and strangled herself to death in the restraint.
It’s true what Marley & Me author, John Grogan, says about dogs –“owning a dog always ends with this sadness because dogs just don’t live as long as people do.” Sadly, at three years old Pi should have had many more years ahead of her.
As I tried to make sense of this accident, I learned that we were not alone in our pain. Countless dogs throughout the country have died from accidental strangulation while left unattended. Many cases have occurred at groomers, in backyards, in the beds of pickup trucks, and even in dog crates, as leashes get caught and dogs will struggle to get loose.
Please remember Pi, and never leave a restrained dog unattended. She lost her life within a matter of minutes because of a human’s carelessness. Don’t let this happen to a dog in your care.
If you are a groomer, please talk with your employees and colleagues today to remind them about the dangers of leaving restrained dogs unattended.
If you are a dog parent, never leave your dog alone while on a leash or chain. Even if you don’t have a dog but you’re an animal lover, please pass this story along to others. No one ever intends to put their dog in danger, but it happens every day.
Through this heartbreak, I’ve learned that the saddest tragedies are the ones that could have easily been prevented.
With your help, let’s make sure this never happens again.