A family in Chula Vista, California had to say goodbye to their beloved pet earlier this week after what they thought was an innocent game of tug-of-war. The family dog, a five-year-old Rottweiler named Max, suffered a fatal injury on his tongue after playing with a KONG dog toy. The dog’s family had to make the difficult decision to put the dog down due to the damage.
Jaime Stumpf, Max’s owner, described the dog as special. He told a local news station that Max was not just any dog, he was the dog, and pet owners all around the world can understand what that means. Max, also known as Maximus Decimus Aurelius, was playing with the popular dog toy when Stumpf’s son realized that there was a problem.
The boy told his mother that he believed the KONG ball was stuck in the dog’s mouth. She checked and found that everything was fine. Stumpf says that Max was holding the ball in the proper position and that it was right in the middle of his mouth, so they continued to play and Max seemed to be having fun. After a little time went by, the family went to bed.
Stumpf says that at one o’clock in the morning Max jumped on her with the ball still in his mouth. She reached in to take the ball away and realized that it wouldn’t come out. The ball was stuck on the dog’s tongue. Stumpf says that there is no hole on the top of the toys, only the bottom and it just got sucked onto Max’s tongue. The more the dog worked to try and get it off, the more suction clamped it down to his tongue.
The family rushed Max to the emergency veterinary clinic where veterinarians worked to cut the ball off his tongue. It was too late when they were finally able to free Max and then it came down to a difficult decision. Do they let Max try to live without his tongue or put him down? Ultimately they decided, with the help of their vet, that Max’s quality of life would be poor without his tongue, so they decided to do what was best for him.
Local news station FOX 5 contacted KONG and received this statement from Vice President of Brand Impact Hilary Van Der Zee:
“We were deeply grieved to hear the news about Maximus yesterday. Since we’ve been made aware of this loss from our KONG Friends on social media we have reached out to Maximus’ family. After learning of the incident, we have launched an extensive review. We are taking this matter very seriously and need to have a deeper understanding of the facts prior to determining our next steps. We do know that this product has been sold for over five years and up until yesterday, we have never heard of any dog experiencing this type of health issue. Toy safety is at the heart and soul of what we do and we will be determining the next steps once we have all of the facts in front of us.”
Stumpf told the news station she has yet to hear from the company as of August 27, 2015, but she is hoping they will consider a change. She feels that the toy design needs to be improved. She also told the news station that she was considering a lawsuit.