Dog owners urged to ditch collars

AN animal funeral director says he is burying at least one family pet every week after it died by choking on its collar.

Tom Jorgensen, of Pet Angel Funerals in Molendinar, and veterinarians want owners to take traditional collars off their dogs while they are out, or when the animal is in the backyard, to stop them strangling themselves on fences and outdoor objects.

Veterinarian Dr Evan Shaw said the issue was prevalent enough that vets in training learnt about the issue in university.

Tom Jorgensen with his schnauzer. Picture: supplied
Tom Jorgensen with his schnauzer. Picture: supplied

"I don't think there's a single vet that hasn't come across this. It's a very traumatic experience," Dr Shaw said. "It's a lot more common than people think."

Mr Jorgensen said each week he would cremate a dog that had choked on its collar.

Dr Evan Shaw with Snowy the poodle. Picture: Tertius Pickard
Dr Evan Shaw with Snowy the poodle. Picture: Tertius Pickard

"I remember picking up a staffy dog off a picket fence, its collar had been caught on a picket," he said.

"The owners had come home to find the dog deceased on the fence. (Collar-related deaths are) not a rare as you would think."

Recently, he cremated a six-month-old dachshund puppy that had gotten itself caught on a toilet roll holder.

It had been playing with another dog trying to grab the toilet paper, but its collar caught on the holder in the process.

Anecdotally, Dr Shaw said it appeared most deaths and injuries were due to animals catching themselves on fencing, particularly the palings with pickets along the top or uneven edges.

The vet, who founded parasite prevention mail service Fleamail, called on owners to remove traditional collars from their dogs and cats when leaving them unattended at home or in the backyard.

Instead, owners could purchase breakaway collars to keep on the pet for ID purposes.

The collars break apart when the animal's weight catches on it.

He also advised training dogs to enjoy being left by themselves so that there was less risk of them attempting to jump fences when bored or lonely.