Distraught pet owner warns others after dog dies playing fetch

A year after her pet dog died when playing with a ball, Louise Jackson wants to make sure no other pet owners make the same mistake she did.

"I blamed myself," Ms Jackson told Yahoo News Australia. "I was the one who threw the ball.

"To know that your dog is going to die —your six-month-old puppy —is going to die in front of your eyes, and there is nothing you can do about it is the worst feeling".

Louise Jackson holding her dog Donnie as a puppy.
Donnie was only six-months-old when he died. Source: Supplied

Ms Jackson had been taking Donnie, her Cane Corso, for a walk near her home in Kent, South East England in April last year when she threw him a bouncy ball.

As the ball bounced back up in the air and Donnie tried to catch it, it got caught in his throat and he started choking.

Donnie the dog sitting down behind some tulips looking up.
Donnie died after he choked on his bouncy ball. Source: Supplied

"I immediately knew it was stuck as Donnie pawed at his mouth," she recalled. "I ran over to him and put my hand down his throat".

The distraught dog owner said she could feel the ball in her dog's throat, but the rubber was too hard to squeeze to try and pull it out and was covered in saliva.

'Avoid hard surfaced balls'

Panicking, Ms Jackson shouted for someone to help her as she was walking Donnie on her own.

"A man came over and lifted Donnie up and did the Heimlich manoeuvre on him but the ball wouldn’t budge," she said. "The man then tried putting his hand in his mouth. He too could feel the ball but could not remove it.

Donnie choked on a ball designed for dogs. Source: sportspet.co.uk
Donnie choked on a ball designed for dogs. Source: sportspet.co.uk

"Donnie was obviously panicking, and biting down on our hands. He actually broke the man’s hand while he was trying to remove the ball," she said.

"We had Donnie upside down, hitting his back, pushing up into his stomach but nothing worked.

"We tried CPR for around 10 minutes but it was too late," she said. "He was gone, my best friend had died."

Louise Jackson holding her dog Donnie before he died in 2021.
Louise Jackson with Donnie whom she called 'her best friend'. Source: Supplied

Now, Ms Jackson urges dog owners to only throw their dog balls with holes in them — just in case they do become stuck and avoid hard-surfaced balls.

"Use balls that have holes in them such as breath right balls, or just use a ball that is physically too big to get stuck," she said. "I would urge all dog owners to learn the Heimlich manoeuvre".

"Donnie use to chew up tennis balls, that’s the reason I bought this hard rubber ball as he couldn’t chew it," she explained.

"Please, please use balls which have holes in them, such as the breath right balls. I wish I had."

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