I get lots of mail like the letter I’m posting below. This one is from a Dolittler reader and pet owner whose pet suffered a fatal reaction––this time from a commercial dog chew. And like most special requests like this one, the questions it raises are many. They’re detailed below this impassioned appeal for your consideration.

Patty,

Here is the letter I sent you that I would like posted on Dolittler. It is contained below and as an attachment for whichever way is easier to post on the site. Thank you.

TO: ALL DOG OWNERS - PLEASE READ!

On Saturday night, (8/16/09) my 6 year old Shih Tzu, Nikko, was eating a dog chewie named Windee (a/k/a Moo tubes & Beef Trachea). He began choking and I tried but could not get the Windee chew from him. I thought the choking stopped before I went to bed but the next day I woke up and Nikko was dead. The necropsy performed that morning revealed approximately 2 inches of the chew lodged in the trachea leading to death by asphyxiation.

The 6" Windee chew is manufactured by Jones Natural Chews Company (the label says Jones Gourmet Chews Company) located in Rockford Illinois. I purchased the Windee from SitStay.com. The chew is advertised as "good chewing for all size dogs". There are absolutely no warnings that choking can occur and cause death OR the Windee can lodge in the trachea and thus cause death by asphyxiation.

I contacted Jones Natural Chews company and spoke to Dean Jones, one of the owners. I told him what happened and he said he would send me a letter advising as to what would be done. When I didn't receive the letter I called him back and he said the letter was sent. I still have not received any letter. I requested they take this product off the market so that it would not happen to another dog. He said they would NOT take the Windee chew off the market. I then requested a warning label on the product that choking can occur and lead to death. He said he spoke to their Attorneys and they may put some type of warning that "Choking could be hazardous" That is not sufficient. It minimizes the reality, death can occur.

I know our dogs love bones and chewies and we all love to see our dogs happy BUT the consequences are not worth it.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE IF YOU HAVE A DOG DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GIVE Windee (a/k/a Moo tubes & Beef Trachea) TO YOUR DOG.

I can't tell you how much I loved Nikko, I bred him and thus had him since the day he was born. IF you have had a dog die because of choking on this or any other product please notify me at

Thank you.

Bobbie Spiegel

[email protected]

Thank you, Bobbie, for taking the time to campaign for pet safety and corporate accountability on your pet’s behalf. All of us here can see ourselves wishing we could make a difference for all pets after ours have suffered a wrong. It’s in this spirit that I offer the questions below, so please do not be offended. We all need to ponder these perspectives as we look for ways to right wrongs and protect our pets.

1-Is the company to be blamed? Was their product truly defective or is asphyxiation a “reasonable” risk all chews carry?

2-Whether the company manufactured a poor product or not, did the company act responsibly in the wake of this event?

3-Is it fair for a company that trades on the close bond we share with our pets to deny a bereaved owner of a harmed pet some compensation (even in the form of a simple apology or expression of remorse)?

4-Might the company claim that owners should observe pets’ chewing behavior to ensure an ideal environment and mitigate the potential risk of chocking? Could it reasonably claim you should have acted more quickly to seek veterinary care on your pet’s behalf? In other words, can it credibly claim you share some degree of fault?

5-Legal questions aside, how should pet companies handle problems like this?

Those of you familiar with Dolittler’s discussions on this subject will recognize an attempt to be fair, but to nonetheless place a burden on pet product manufacturers and pet service providers (including veterinarians) to own up to their role.

For the purposes of the discussion below, please limit your comments to the subject of pet products, not services. Thanks in advance for this concession, as I know many of you have had veterinary-specific issues along these lines.