GSD Help & Information
Hi! My name is Erica
Cacioppo. On May 26th, 2006 my Lab/Pit mix, Shelby, had a horrific
accident involving a paper shredder.
Shredders and the Potential Danger to Dogs
I woke at 6 AM to a horrible sound. It was Shelby screaming! It was a
sound I have never heard and can't get out of my head. I ran downstairs
and asked my husband Gino, who was holding her, what was wrong. Before
he could answer I saw the most horrific sight of my life, Shelby's
tongue stuck inside our paper shredder. Our other dog Sophia, thinking
Shelby was being attacked was pulling relentlessly and with all her
might on the shredder, not knowing she was making matters worse. Even
though in shock of the situation we worked as fast as we could to get
Shelby to the vet. We had to pry Sophia off and put her in the
bathroom. In that time Shelby had bit her own tongue off. I suppose in
Gino got Shelby in the car as I got dressed and got together our purse
and wallet. This all happened in a matter of 5 minutes. Our closest
animal clinic was an agonizing 20 minutes away, at which time Shelby
was bleeding profusely. We got there just in time. She started going
into convulsions just before being put under for surgery. During the
operation she got between 40 to 50 stitches and loss her entire tongue.
After the surgery the vet, Dr. Emo, told us she didn't know how Shelby
be able to eat and drink, as she has never seen or heard of an injury
this. At this point we had decided to put her to sleep. Thank God the
did extensive research and found a study on dogs with the same injury
they adapted to the situation over time and had the same attitude and a
great quality of life. We then decided to give Shelby the chance she
It paid off! She is very happy! Shelby getting her voice back was no
problem, 2 weeks later she was barking at the neighbor dog again. She
can eat wet food very easily with our help and as of mid June is
doing okay with trying to learn to eat dry food again. She is drinking
water through a syringe that we give to her. She lets us know when she
wants water. She is starting to learn how to scoop up water on her own
and on June 17th ate her 1st rawhide that she stole from her sister!
still drools some, but has learned to wipe her own mouth on towels we
in the house and outside for her. We have no doubt she will completely
adapt with some time and effort. She's our miracle baby!
We want people to know that this happens and that if it does you can
save your baby! If you are in a similar situation please e-mail this
web site and they will contact me and I can help you with any questions
you may have. I beg you to please tell everyone you know and please
UNPLUG your shredder or GET RID OF IT!!!! You NEVER want to go through
what we did!!!!!! It was utterly horrible. We couldn't eat or sleep. We
have bad nightmares about what happened. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!!!
Erica Cacioppo, Shelby's owner
Dogs and Paper
What I Learned One Night in the ER
Dr. Emo, Shelby's Vet
works as an Emergency Room veterinarian in St. Louis, Missouri)
One night while I
was working at the St. Louis Animal Emergency Clinic a 4-year-old
female spayed Labrador retriever named Shelby came in. Little did I
know this would be a dog that I'll never forget. Shelby presented after
recently getting her tongue caught in a paper shredder. Despite the
owners' and the family pitbull's valiant efforts to rescue her, the
traction on Shelby's tongue was too great and it gave way at the level
of her epiglottis.
Basically, Shelby lost her entire tongue.
Despite this, Shelby presented bright, alert, and responsive but was a
little head shy and per owners could be unpredictably “snappy” at times
making an oral exam difficult without sedation. She had blood dripping
from her mouth but the rest of her physical exam was within normal
limits. In order to provide the owners with a realistic prognosis (in
terms of swallowing, prehension, laryngeal reflex, voice) and because
the case was so unusual, phone calls were made to the University of
Missouri Veterinary Teaching Hospital (UMC-VMTH), a specialty practice
in St. Louis called Veterinary Specialty Services (VSS), and my father,
Phillip Hornbostel M.D. (a general surgeon) for advice. I learned of a
recent study done at UMC-VMTH which showed the prognosis for dogs after
traumatic glossectomy (tongue excision) was excellent and explained
these results to the owners. The owners were satisfied that an
acceptable quality of life was possible for Shelby and opted for
The immediate and most pressing concern was blood loss. Stabilization
was the highest priority since fatalities due to traumatic glossectomy
have been reported. In Shelby's case, a preoperative bolus of fluids
was given and was adequate for stabilization prior to anesthesia. Pain
medication was also given. Preoperative bloodwork to determine if
was anemic was done and her value PCV was 55% which is normal. Upon
an oral exam was performed revealing not even a “stub” of tongue, but
only a small amount of tissue remaining at the back of the throat. The
edges were trimmed and the remainder of the defect was closed with
Shelby recovered well. Her red blood cell count after the surgery but
she showed no clinical signs of anemia. She was offered water with a
syringe 16 hours after surgery which she took relatively well. Just 24
hours post-op she was offered canned i/d meatballs but it was another
12 hours before she was successful in getting them to the back of her
mouth and swallowing them. Shelby was eating and drinking well (syringe
drinking) 36 hours later and likely could have gone home at this time.
At the owners request Shelby was allowed a full 72 hours of recovery
before returning home.
Shelby has been pretty famous since this “freak” accident and has even
made the Channel 4 news in Saint Louis! At the time of the
news story a few weeks ago she was still getting syringes of water
was likely not necessary but was a result of Shelby training her
University of Missouri recommends kibble for these patients. One
post-op patient ate canned food in the form of meatballs in order to
get adequate daily water intake. Most of these dogs learn to drink
water by scooping it out of the bowl. Another consideration might be a
wall mounted watering device with a nipple attachment.
Quality of life was the owners' number one concern and they
are thrilled at how much she still enjoys life, including food. All
in all Shelby is a happy, albeit very lucky, dog.
shredders when not in use.
leave the shredder in the "automatic" setting.
If used often, plug the shredder into a power strip where power to it
can easily be turned off with the flick of a button. Children
are less prone to try and find where it is connected but will always
flip the switch on top of the unit itself because of easy
Another advantage of plugging it into a power strip which is
left off until use is that a dog or cat who accidently lands on the
on/off button will not turn it on.
Never put food wrappers through the shredder! Animals are attracted to
food and this is one area where you do not want them. Shredders
have disfigured many children's hands and animals have suffered in
horrible ways from these machines. Although manufacturers are making
them safer, placing cutting bars farther away from little fingers,
units are still in use.
When buying a shredder, look for one with a protective bar over the
opening. If you think there is the slightest chance that a child or dog
could be injured by a shredder in an area accesssible to everyone in
the household, simply take a large sized waste paper basket and turn it
upside down over the unit, concealing it from view.
reprinted with kind permission from Mel http://www.k911.biz
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TENNIS BALLS ARE NOT SAFE FOR BIG DOGS
By DeTroy Kistner
Please read this if
you have a ball-crazy German Shepherd, Golden Retriever or Labrador.
While I was talking on the phone, Sailor my 10- month- old German
Shepherd, brought me his ball for a game of indoor catch. It was a hard
rubber ball about tennis ball size. It had little raised dots of
rubber. I was quite sure it was too large for there to be any danger of
him swallowing it. I would toss it to him and he'd catch it on the fly.
We must have
done it thirty times when suddenly I looked at Sailor and saw that he
was in great distress. I knew instantly that he must have gotten the
stuck in his throat on the last toss. His head was down and he was
to get it out but was unable to do so. I dropped the phone not even
one second to explain to the caller what was happening. I grabbed my
and he wriggled free struggling to get air and free himself of the
lodged in his throat. I was wrestling him in his own fight for
Three times I grabbed him and three times he got away from me. Finally
I got him and pried open his mouth. Trying to get the ball out with my
fingers- only seemed to cause it to slide further down in his throat.
The poor animal was struggling to be free of me and to get air into his
lungs again. The ball was now in his throat beyond reach, like an
enormous Adam's apple. He had locked his teeth and was trying to
swallow it. And of course he could not. By this time I am as desperate
and frantic as he is. I live on the fifteenth floor of a pre-war
building in mid- Manhattan.
There is no vet in the building and none of my neighbours are at home.
I know that by the time the elevator operator puts down his newspaper
saunters into the elevator and brings the old machine up 15 stories my
beloved young dog will be near death. And then to go down again and try
to find a cab that would take me and the dog to a vet or the Animal
Centre... well, no creature on earth could go for that length of time
air and make it.
Never have I felt more alone and scared then I did at that moment. I
knew that if couldn't figure out how to save him and do it quickly he
was going to die. I grabbed onto him again, straddling him. I put my
hand below the hall on the outside of his neck and gently worked the
up his throat the way you would work a ball through a tube or out of
toe of a sock. It came up part way, but then Sailor eeled away again in
his panic and struggle. I grabbed him again and threw him on the couch,
again half straddling him to try and hold him. His teeth were clamped
down, I seemed to need at least four hands and I only had two. I
telling God I needed his help RIGHT NOW! I knew that time was running
out and the thought of my beautiful young dog dying in my arms while I
am powerless to help him gave me a feeling of despair I'd never known
before. Again I tried to work the ball up his throat from the outside
squeezing it gently from beneath. Slowly but surely it rose up his
throat. I pried his teeth open with my fingers and finally, holding his
head against me and keeping one hand under the ball, I was able to
reach into his mouth and grab the ball from the back of his throat and
pull it out.
We sat there for a long time. He kept swallowing and was very
quiet. Young as he was he seemed to know how close to death he had
There was a fair amount of blood on my fingers and I wasn't sure
it had come from his throat. I thought that perhaps his throat was tom
so I took him to the vet immediately. The vet checked him out and found
him to be okay, but gave him some antibiotics just in case. He told me
that I had saved my dog's life. Most people, he said, try to get help
and the dog dies on the way. They just can't get to help fast enough to
save their dog. Usually, he said, when I see them they are already
dead. I see a lot of golden retrievers with tennis balls that have died
on the way.
Most of the blood had, I found out later, come from my own fingers that
had taken a bit of a beating prying open those clamped sharp baby
molars. My fingers were sore for days, but who cared I had my dog and
he was alive! I started to warn other owners of big ball-happy dogs in
Central Park. Some would respond with, "But he's never swallowed it
before." Yes, well the first time could be the LAST time. It only takes
one time for
your dog to die. He may have caught it for years and then one day he
it on the fly and it gets beyond his tongue and you can lose your dog.
Three weeks later a friend's German shepherd got a tennis ball caught
in his throat. The dog is seven years old and has been retrieving
tennis balls for years. It happened in Central Park and the NYPD
happened to be close by and threw the dog in the patrol car and raced
(sometimes literally over the sidewalk) to get it to the Animal Medical
The dog was blue and almost gone when they pulled up at the Animal
Medical Centre. "What did they do?" I asked, expecting to hear about
quick major surgery. "Oh, they just worked it up his throat from the
outside and it popped right out!" said his owner. So why doesn't anyone
tell owners about this? Everyone thinks that a tennis ball is safe.
I have heard that the Heimlich manoeuvre can be used to expel
something lodged in a dog's throat. I don't know whether it was a
that might have worked. It is probably good to know as well. But I do
know that a major animal hospital used the same method of working it up
from the outside that I described. I think big dog owners should know
this. Obviously one doesn't take animal medicine into one's own hands
when there is a vet at one's elbow. But when your dog is for sure going
to die if YOU don't DO something then it is good to know something you
can do. Last week I heard that another Central Park dog died the same
His owner tried to get the dog from the park into a cab and to a vet
he didn't make it.
That's why I wanted to share this, because many people are so
panicked that they don't think to even try to work the ball up from
the outside. I thought perhaps this might save a dog's life. Now all
Sailor's balls are rope balls. They are tennis ball sized but there is
a rope attached. One mail order company even sells ones that float. And
the rope enables me to throw them further and Sailor gets a longer run.
(We were unable to locate the author for permission
to reprint this but were pretty sure there would be no objections for
reasons that are obvious.)
I am just writing to let you other readers know of a recent incident
with a football ( i.e. squares stitched together type and covered
in a glossy plastic) and my GSD.
My son got this football for his 14th Birthday. It was left in
the living room and on Sunday morning my GSD came into our bedroom in a
panic. Here she had this football protruding from her
mouth. I told her to drop it as she does drop items when
asked. She would not drop this item. Her breathing was
becoming noisy. Her
4 large canine teeth had become lodged in the football. To get it
free my husband had to prise her upper jaw open and I had to pull down
on her bottom one to get the ball out of her mouth. We are only
that we were here to get the ball free. This ball was too large
get stuck in her mouth, but obviously with her teeth being stuck in it
with it being new she could not free it herself with her paws. It was
obviously restricting her breathing.
My boy Kane has experienced this problem on many occasions with balls
kicked into my garden from the young lad next door. The canine teeth
manage to make self-sealing punctures so I keep a Stanley knife to hand
for when this may happen, and make a cut in the side of the ball
enabling Kane to compress the ball and extract it himself. This may
cost me a replacement ball each time, but it saves a lot of distress on
the dog’s part.
If I did not know better I would accuse the young lad of only
kicking the balls over whenever he decided that he would like a new
reprinted with kind permission from Maureen Stewart
Vets have operated on a dog
who had become sick after swallowing 28 golf balls.
dog who ate 28 golf balls
German shepherd Libby had been coughing up blood after weeks of
fetching golf balls at the course where owner Mike Wardrop works. Mr
Wardrop said he had not realised the dog had a secret taste for the
balls she found each day at Didsbury Golf Club in Manchester. Libby is
now recovering from the operation to remove them. Mr Wardrop, who works
as a bar manager at the
club, said: "I've had to buy her two footballs. She can't swallow
Mr Wardrop used to watch with
pride as 18-month-old Libby picked up balls on their daily walk around
Didsbury Golf Club, Manchester, where he lives and works as a bar
|Wolfing them down
She would often drop some at his feet, but little did Mr Wardrop know
that she was swallowing the rest.
The vets didn't even have to do an X-ray because they could hear the
balls and feel them rattling around.
Mike Wardrop He said: "It got to the stage where she would pick up four
or five balls every day.
"She loved fitting them in her mouth. She would bring them to me and
I'd have a laugh. "I had no idea she was wolfing them down as well."
Mr Wardrop, 47, only noticed there was something wrong when Libby began
to go off her food.
His wife Julie, 45, then noticed Libby coughing up blood and rushed her
to the nearby Greenbank Veterinary Clinic.
"The vets didn't even have to do an X-ray because they could hear the
balls and feel them rattling around.
"They were having bets about how many would be in there. Mr Wardrop
said: "I didn't believe my wife at all when she told me Libby had
swallowed 28 balls. ."I think the highest bet was 11, so they were
shocked when 28 came out.
"I find it hard to believe she swallowed them whole and I'm gobsmacked
to say the least."
The balls weighed in at 6lb and were recovered during a
two-and-a-half-hour operation. Libby had to have 30 stitches to sew her
Mr Wardrop said it cost £600 but was worth every penny. He added:
"Libby is fine now and a bit more bouncy than she was before. "We've
got every single ball back and we're keeping them as a memento. "They
are all brown from the stomach acid but we are keeping them to show
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