Updated: Dec 26, 2020
National Pet Suffocation Awareness week is December 1-7. National Pet Suffocation Awareness week started back in 2015 after Bonnie Harlan, lost her dog, Blue. She was able to bring attention to this matter through her Prevent Pet Suffocation Facebook page. Pets die from asphyxiation in as few as 3-5 minutes every single day. It can happen to any pet, regardless of age, size, amount of training, etc.
This does not happen due to negligence - but to the mere fact that such few pet owners are aware of that there is a risk. Often times as loving pet owners we name naughty behaviors as "cute" or "funny".
More specifically, pet owners have been known to find their dogs sniffing themselves head deep in an empty bag of potato chips - and they shrug it off as funny. To elaborate, this is NEVER funny. When they are head deep in these bags it is extremely dangerous and the early stages of suffocation has already began. Without a way to grab and remove the bag, a vacuum-like seal is created around their head as they remain head first in the bag. As this happens, the oxygen levels quickly decline and the carbon dioxide increases rapidly - causing the entrapped pet to panic and eventually suffocate.
To look further into the the statics I came across MWI Animal Health article The Real Danger of Pet Suffocation it is stated that:
"Three to five pet suffocations get reported every week and 42 percent of those occur while the owner is in the next room. It only takes about 3 minutes for their oxygen to drop to fatal levels" (See referenced article).
This percentage alone shows the lack of awareness in pet owners. These suffocation hazards are usually source from the home trash/recycling bin, grabbed off the table or counter, found on the floor of even found as litter outside.
What you can to do to take extra precautionary steps:
Cut bags in an "L-Shape" manner, starting at the opening down towards the bottom seal and across, so that no animal can get their head stuck inside the bag;
Continue basic obedience training ("leave it", "drop it", etc);
Never encourage dogs to sniff through empty food containers/bags/enclosures;
Restrain yourself from littering;
Take a moment to sign (and share) Prevent Pet Suffocation’s org petition to get awareness and warnings on bags:
Preventive Vet has a survey to allow them to develop additional knowledge regarding pet suffocation. If you've lost your pet to suffocation or know someone who has, they hope that you'll share your story and complete their survey.
(Image from Wag.com)