When Alyssa and Kevin C. brought their newborn daughter, Aubrey, home from the hospital three months ago, they were prepared with everything a baby might need, including a bag of brand new pacifiers.
The couple, who have two other young daughters, also have an eight-month-old pit bull named Blue. Having each grown up with dogs, the pair stashed the pacifiers in a closet to keep the plucky pooch from finding and potentially eating them.
Despite the couple’s best efforts, just before Christmas, Kevin caught Blue with a mouthful of the pacifiers.
“He found them on the floor of the closet,” recalls Kevin. “I ran over to grab the bag but he darted away. My heart sank. I was beating myself up.”
Unsure if Blue had swallowed any of the pacifiers, Alyssa and Kevin kept a close eye on him. Days passed, but soon Blue stopped eating and began vomiting regularly. He also suffered from diarrhea.
“I knew we needed to get him to a hospital fast and started calling around,” says Kevin. “We figured he’d need surgery right away.”
At the suggestion of Kevin’s mother, they brought Blue to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), where X-Rays revealed clusters of pacifiers in Blue’s stomach and intestines.
Blue was rushed to surgery. There, Dr. Maren Krafchik, an AAH veterinarian, made two incisions: one in Blue’s stomach to remove three of the pacifiers, and one in his small intestines where six more were lodged.
“Once they made it to the small intestines, they weren’t going to move any farther,” says Dr. Krafchik.
“It’s much more common for a dog to bite off the tip of a pacifier, rather than swallowing it whole, but this dog was an exception,” adds Dr. Andra Gordon, the veterinarian who oversaw Blue’s care. “Miraculously, there was no intestinal damage.”
When Kevin returned to the family’s Long Beach house without Blue, his daughters Kylie, 5, and Olivia, 2, burst into tears, afraid that their best friend would never come home.
“We acknowledged their sadness and suggested they put that energy into making sure we prevent this from ever happening again,” says Kevin. “We explained to them how important it is to be very careful with small toys and rubber, chewy items. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to them about being really careful.”
Kylie immediately began collecting toys from around the house, putting them in a basket and asking Kevin to put the basket atop her tall dresser, where it would be out of Blue’s reach.
Blue came home the following day and has since made an “awesome” recovery, according to Kevin.
“We could never have asked for a better dog. It’s like he was made for these kids,” says Kevin. “We wanted the kids to grow up with the love of a dog, like we did. He brings a lot love to this family.”
Alyssa and Kevin say the pacifier experience, though regrettable, helped them teach their daughters how to responsibly care for a dog. “We teach him, and he teaches us,” says Kevin.
Kylie is taking to those lessons very well, holding Blue’s leash when they’re out for walks or at the beach, where Blue likes to chase balls into the sunset.
“It’s a blessing to be able to raise my girls—and Blue,” says Kevin. “He’s my kid too, and like a brother to them.
“In a house with three kids and a dog it tends to get a little crazy,” Kevin admits. But, he adds, “I just want others to learn from what happened to us and be mindful of what’s around your house. Life can change in a matter of seconds.”
If you think your pet may have ingested or been exposed to a potentially dangerous substance or item, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435 immediately.