Bone treat turns deadly for Valley dog; FDA issues warnings

PHOENIX - A Valley woman says her dog died from intestinal issues about two weeks after eating a pork bone treat she bought at the store. She wants to share her story with other dog owners as the FDA comes out with its warning about the dangers of dog bone treats. 

She had a sweet and loving face. American bulldog, Lilly, was known as the "protector." 

"I've never been close to a dog like I was her, at all," said Christine DeBusk. "So it was really hard."

Over the summer, DeBusk gave Lilly a treat. It was a pork bone she bought at the store for $3. But about a week later, she knew something wasn't right. 

"They did X-rays and found it was lodged in her," said DeBusk. "They broke up most of it, but there was a piece they were a little concerned about. They said as long as she's not showing any other symptoms the antibiotics should help."

Lilly's family thought they were in the clear. Another week passed before the unimaginable. 

"I looked at her, and all of a sudden, I noticed she wasn't breathing," said DeBusk "I was shaking her. The kids came out and they were crying."

Christine hugged Lilly until it was over, trying to send her dog a message.

"Just that I loved her and I was sorry," said DeBusk. "I didn't mean to kill her."

It was a traumatic experience that other pet owners have faced. 

After 15 dogs died, the FDA just released a warning, telling pet owners to stay away from the bone treats sold in stores. 

"They splinter, they break off, they get lodged into the body systems," said Sandra Moore, director of the veterinarian assisting program at Carrington College. 

Moore says the pieces of bone can get stuck around the curves of the intestines.

"Those blockages are going to be what causes the most damage," said Moore. "And sometimes, irreversible, leading to death."

After Lilly's death, DeBusk shared her story on Facebook. Her post received more than 55,000 shares. 

"She's going to save thousands of lives and that's huge for us," said DeBusk.

And the family got a new dog. They rescued a deaf dog named Mindy, who was scheduled to be put down. 

"She's definitely brought joy back," said DeBusk. "And we say Lilly helped, because she looks a lot like her in a lot of the pictures."

The DeBusk family has been reaching out to many different corporations, hoping to get dog bone treats pulled from the store shelves. 

Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. has released a statement via their general counsel regarding the DeBusks' incident:

We are general counsel for Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. On behalf of Smokehouse, its principals and staff and our office, we acknowledge and understand that the loss of a pet is a traumatic experience, and we extend our sympathy to your caller for such loss.

Our client has been pleased that over the last decades there have been very few incidents of harm to pets from our client’s bone products.

As is commonly known, and as provided in our client’s labels, there are notices that pets should be supervised when being given a bone product. Should a bone product splinter or fragment, it should be immediately removed and discarded. Attached hereto for your ready reference is a copy of packaging containing a notification and recommendation for such supervision.

Our client concurs with your caller that a message should be communicated to pet owners. The message should be that pet owners should be mindful of warning labels and should comply with the directions on the warning label, as well as supervising the pet’s chewing of bones.

Hopefully, your caller’s desire to alert dog owners of the foregoing will result in avoiding harm or injury to their pets.

Thank you for the opportunity of replying to your caller’s message and protecting against possible future injuries.

Very truly yours,
Rubin Turner

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