Wearing a face mask is a big adjustment for many people. But most of us make this minor sacrifice because we understand that wearing face masks can help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and, therefore, save lives.
But when people don’t properly dispose of their personal protective gear, those precautionary measures can have exactly the opposite effect. Consider the case of one Boston dog, Gibbs, who required “life-saving surgery” after eating a disposable mask.
According to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the unlucky poodle made this dangerous mistake after finding a discarded face mask someone had failed to properly dispose of. “Masks can smell like food, and dogs or wildlife may think they’re a treat,” the rescue organization explained in a statement.
Accidentally ingesting masks, gloves, and other PPE can bring deadly consequences, as Gibb’s harrowing case reveals. “These items can cause massive stomach upset or intestinal blockages, and the metal nose wire in masks may cause a variety of health issues, including stomach and esophageal tears, as well as sepsis, which may prove fatal if not treated,” rescuers wrote.
Dogs who’ve eaten face masks or other foreign objects often experience vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal tenderness or pain, decreased appetite, lethargy, constipation, and they might bite or growl if anybody touches their abdomen. Fortunately, somebody noticed that Gibbs was acting strangely and rushed the dog to the animal hospital, where X-rays revealed the pup had ingested a paper face mask.
Surgeons rushed to perform a “life-saving surgery” and little Gibbs is expected to make a full recovery. But this harrowing ordeal could have been easily avoided if people just properly disposed of their masks in the first place. “When finished with a piece of PPE, it should always be disposed of in a covered waste container,” rescuers reminded pet owners. “We are all in this together, and it’s up to all of us to protect our pets and wildlife and to keep Massachusetts beautiful!”
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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