Oh my goodness, I never would have imagined this danger. Here’s the snopes verification that this is true!
Ellen Lutz of Aqueboque learned that firsthand last month, when her 7-month-old golden retriever, Striker, ambled into her home office and licked her paper shredder. To her horror, the machine latched onto his tongue, and began to grind.
“He was screaming, and he was fighting for his life,” says Lutz, adding that in his panic, the 67-pound puppy did even more damage to his mutilated tongue.
She immediately disconnected the shredder, and took Striker to a nearby emergency hospital. “I was covered in blood from head to toe,” Lutz remembers. A story this horrific is hard-pressed to end well: Striker’s injury was so severe – basically, most of his tongue was gone – that he was euthanized.
“I’ve been in emergency medicine for 10 years, and this is the first time I have seen or heard of this,” says veterinarian Gal Vatash of the East End Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center in Riverhead, who treated Striker in December.
“But I’m surprised it doesn’t occur more often. Most of us have paper shredders at home, and dogs are always sticking their noses in all kinds of places.”
Indeed, Striker is not alone. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recorded five dog mutilations involving shredders, and what is not known is how many cases go unreported.
In February of last year, a young boxer puppy named Cross from Socastee, S.C., caught his tongue on a home shredder, mangling an inch of it into what his owner, Sandra Clarke, called “hamburger meat.”
In 2005, in South Spokane, Wash., a 7-month-old mix named Alice Lane licked a paper shredder, which in turn ground up all of her tongue. “I will never forget the sound it madewhen she pulled away,” her owner, Adam Forney, told reporters.
In her panic, the puppy bit off part of Forney’s pinky. Like Striker, the dog had to be euthanized because of the extent of her injury.
Even dogs that are lucky enough to survive lead compromised lives, Lutz says. “They have to be on soft diets, and they have to learn how to swallow again.” For an active dog like Striker, his favorite pastime – going on hikes through the woods – would have been an impossibility, she says, because there was too much damage to his tongue to allow him to pant.
Not surprisingly, Lutz no longer has a shredder. “Before this happened, I was the shredding queen,” she says. “And while I know they’re really important in our lives to help destroy documents and prevent identity theft, it’s going to be a long time before I’m going to have one in the house again.”
Some simple precautions can ensure that accidents such as Striker’s do not happen. Among them:
Unplug shredders when not in use.
Store shredders out of reach of animals (and, of course, children, especially those under 5, who can also be victims of shredder accidents).
Make sure that the shredder is located in a place that is “pounce proof”: Acrobatic kitties that jump atop shredders can also do terrible damage to themselves.
To avoid attracting animals, never put food wrappers through shredders.
Do not leave shredders on the “automatic” setting.
When buying a shredder, look for one with a protective bar over the opening.