When Courtney Gresham’s Boston Terrier Emmie was found dead, it was anything but expected.
She was doing the same thing she did at least 5 days a week. She put Emmie in a crate, and set off to work. When she arrived home from work, Emmie would be there, waiting and wagging.
Only one day, Emmie wasn’t wagging. She wasn’t moving at all.
“I left work a little early and got home that afternoon. I opened the back door and immediately saw Emmie up on her back legs in the crate,” Gresham posted to Facebook. “I ran to her to find that her COLLAR was hung on a part of the metal crate near the top. In tears and screaming, I opened the door and unhooked the hung part of her collar.”
Emmie was unresponsive, so Gresham rushed her to the veterinarian. Sadly, there was nothing even they could do for the 5-year-old dog.
“The vet called it a freak accident,” Gresham wrote. “She was trying to open the kennel door, her collar got hung on a jutted-out piece of the crate, and she had been strangled.”
Gresham was distraught. She never realized such a tragedy could happen, and she’s not alone.
“I have since read so much on the internet about how this can happen,” she continued. “A collar (or the tags on a collar) can get hung in a crate, a collar can get hung on another dog/or in another dog’s mouth when two dogs are playing together, a collar can get hung on a doorknob (if a dog jumps just right), a collar can get hung on a low tree branch… and these can be fatal to the dog. We learned this the hard way. So many ‘what ifs’ and ‘why didn’t I do this’ are plaguing our minds.”
Knowing what she does now, Gresham is asking other pet owners to never put a collared animal in a crate. She pleads with others to take the collars off first, or to use “break-away” collars that detach when they get caught on something.
Though she initially felt filled with shame for the incident, Gresham decided to turn her story into a warning for pet parents.
“I feel so guilty that it happened. Now in hindsight, I see so many ways it could have been prevented. But if it saves even ONE dog’s life, it’s worth it to share,” Gresham wrote.
It took the tragic death of a very special dog to spread that message to others, but Gresham is still hopeful Emmie hasn’t died in vain.
“The evening after burying Emmie (on my parents’ land), we sat outside near her grave at sunset to tell her goodbye. We saw dozens and dozens of lightning bugs flying all around… some almost landing on us, some hovering over her grave, and many lighting up at the edge of the woods,” she wrote.
“I grew up in the country, and have never seen so many at one time before. It was a beautiful sight. I like to think they were sent by Emmie,” Gresham continued. “She certainly “lit” up our lives, and I pray we did hers as well.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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