This is how the Humane Society of the United States describes a choke collar:
“As the name implies, this collar is made of metal links and is designed to control your dog by tightening around your dog’s neck. It is supposed to sit high up on the dog’s neck just behind her ears. Unlike the martingale collar, there is no way to control how much the choke chain tightens, so it’s possible to choke or strangle your dog. It can also cause other problems too, such as injuries to the trachea and esophagus, injuries to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, nerve damage, fainting, transient paralysis, and even death.”
I’ve written many posts about dog training. (Refer to “Is Dog Training an Animal Welfare Issue?” for a detailed description of the differences between positive reinforcement vs. dominance based training.) Choke collars are never found on a dog trained with positive reinforcement and frequently found on dogs who are trained in the antiquated dominance-based style of dog training.
In the short term, choke collars can work to get a dog to stop his undesired behavior. Long term, they can kill. Unfortunately, Del and Carolyn Bryant found this out the hard way.
According to the NY Times, the Bryants left their two dogs, Peanut and Sweetie, at one of the Biscuits and Bath franchises in New York. But only one dog was returned to them alive.
While Biscuits and Bath’s tag line is “You’ll wish you were your dog” and their website describes their transportation system as “Safe & Sound - Door To Door,” neither of those statements could be further from the truth.
The NY Times article stated, “All the dogs there are in double choke collars, a security precaution, the company says on its web site, intended to give their owners ‘peace of mind.’ Ms. Bryant said she did not know about it and called it ‘terrible, barbaric.’
“Sweetie and Peanut were being brought back to TriBeCa from the Biscuits and Bath place on West 13th Street, where they had spent the night. The dogs were leashed by ‘slip collars,’ also known as choke collars, which tighten when the dog pulls. Then their leashes were hooked onto the walls of the van. Other dogs were picked up. Some of the other dogs were anxious and active in the back, and managed to get tangled with the patient, according to a report from Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists. When the driver turned around, he saw the patient hanging by his choke collar.”
Peanut died on October 12. At this writing on October 21, the Biscuits and Bath website still describes their transportation system as “two slip collars placed on each dog plus durable, double layer, double stitch nylon leashes clipped into a screw-lock carabiner on a waist belt.” So far, my calls to inquire about changes they will be making haven’t been returned. It astounds me that they aren’t using crates to safely transport animals.
I am mourning the loss of a dog I never met. What will it take for pet professionals to educate themselves before they put one more dog at risk for their life?
To tell Biscuits and Bath to stop using choke chains, sign this Care2 petition.
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