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The unknown dangers of dog collars

By on July 29, 2019 in Uncategorized with 2 Comments
Lynette Smith with her beloved Ryder Jackson, front, and Jayde, the now passed labrador that started her lab love.

By Lynette Smith

My name is Lynette, and I’ve been a “dog mom” for over 40 years. Until last fall, I was unaware of the many dangers associated with dog collars.

Sadly, I learned the hard way by losing my beloved chocolate lab, Ryder Jackson. 

It was a typical October fall afternoon. I was getting ready to take my two Labradors, Ryder and Skyrah, for a walk. I hadn’t been gone very long, and walked in the front door excited to go on our daily adventure. 

As soon as the door opened, I knew immediately something was wrong. 

Ryder and Skyrah didn’t greet me at the door with wagging tails and smiles like usual. Instead, I looked across the room and saw Skyrah somehow connected to Ryder. 

I dropped everything, and much to my horror, Skyrah’s jaw was snagged and entangled on Ryder’s collar. It took a moment to process everything, and I moved fast to unbuckle the collars. 

Then I realized, Ryder, wasn’t moving. I’ll spare you all the horrific details, but Ryder died that day. I’m heartbroken I lost Ryder, and thankful Skyrah survived. 

I had to find answers. After researching, I discovered that Ryder had died from what’s known as “dog collar strangulation.” 


I’ve heard people reference Ryder’s accident as a “freak accident.” After researching and looking for answers, I discovered dog collar strangulation isn’t a freak accident. In fact, they are more common than you think. 

Dog collars can get hung up on many things. They can get caught on kennels/crates, furniture, kitchen knobs (for those counter surfers), deck slats, floor grates, bushes, or jaw/teeth can get caught on another dog’s collar causing dog collar strangulation. 

Collar strangulation has caused many dogs of all ages to lose their lives. Some 26,000 dogs (that we know of) lose their lives yearly from dog collar strangulation. 

In addition to the deaths, there are thousands of countless stories of dog(s) that have barely survived a collar incident.

I want to honor Ryder who we lost, and Skyrah, who survived. 

Since my loss, I have created the Ryder Safe Foundation. We are currently shifting to a non-profit status. 

My goal is to raise awareness about the dangers that lurk regarding dog collars, how to use them properly, and to advocate for change. 

I would like to see dog collar companies add warning labels on proper use and to see pet stores, boutiques, shelters, breeders, and anyone working with dogs to also provide safety information on dog collars to help raise awareness. 

It only takes a minute to let a dog owner know to remove collars when your dog is in a kennel or crate, home alone unattended, or during play as it could result in the death of your beloved dog. 

When using collars, we recommend the PetSafe KeepSafe dog collar. This is a “breakaway” collar that will break away when tension is applied to the collar. It’s also designed so you can walk your dog without the collar breaking apart. 

Many dog collar companies list their collars as a “quick release” but that is a false sense of safety because they are only a quick release at the hands of a human. You want to look for a “breakaway” collar.

Dogs should wear a collar under supervision only. We recommend you remove collars (or anything around your dog’s neck) when you kennel/crate your dog, leave them home alone unattended, and during play. 

Dogs hang themselves in kennels/crates from their collars, and age and size doesn’t matter. When left home alone, too many dangers lurk around the house they can get caught on. During play, when dogs are running/playing their jaw can get caught in a collar, and once they twist it can be almost impossible to get them unconnected. 

One of the most dangerous collars we see is the choke chain type collar when left on a dog, or a thick leather buckle collar. They can be difficult, almost impossible to remove without the right tools. We recommend that any facility working with dog(s) has on hand bolt cutters, and industrial strength scissors should collar entanglement happen. 

It’s also important that you ask your doggie daycare, local dog parks, groomer, pet sitter (or anyone working with dogs), questions about how they use dog collars, what their policies are regarding dog collar use, and safety. 

The more dogs you have that play together, the more likelihood of entanglement/strangulation happening. 

With education and awareness we can lower the number of these deaths and keep your fur babies safe. 

You can learn more about our mission at www.Rydersafefoundation.com,  Visit us on Facebook or Instagram at Labradorablebffs. Please share our story with your family and friends to help raise awareness, and keep our dog family safe. Google us at #RyderSafe.

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Sherry Landers says:

    Lynette, thank you for sharing Ryder’s story. No way this is an easy task. I know your goal and love for Ryder, Skyrah and all dogs is to help keep them alive and safe. May God bless you greatly for your bravery to be open and educating others about collar safety.

  2. Trina Adams says:

    Lynette, many thanks for sharing this difficult story about your precious Ryder! Article was well written…this is definitely an issue that demands education & attention by all dog owners!

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