Pets have become a near-ubiquitous part of the human condition, and most pet owners will talk at length about the joy their pets give them. But there’s also a darker side to go with the joy. No one wants to believe that a beloved animal could ever cause a tragedy, but this list explores 10 cases where a pet did just that.
In September 1947, 66-year-old Fannie Stewart’s pet parrot, Dolly, landed on the kitchen stove and turned on the gas jets. Neighbors detected gas outside Stewart’s home and called the police, who arrived to find her unconscious in the kitchen. Rescue workers performed artificial respiration and revived Stewart, who explained that Dolly had turned on the gas jets once before. Stewart was taken to a medical center, where she suffered a stroke and died.
In 2016, a 68-year-old Toronto man arrived at Toronto General Hospital after suffering weakness, abdominal pain, chills, and sudden weight loss. Doctors discovered that the man had an aneurysm in the abdominal section of his aorta, which ruptured. His aorta was repaired, and the man was treated with penicillin. But he died of septic shock 13 days later. When he arrived at the hospital, the man’s wife mentioned that he had been bitten by their cat four weeks earlier. The cat bite had transmitted Pasteurella multocida, bacteria that is common in pets’ mouths. The man was a heavy drinker, which had compromised his immune system and increased his risk of complications from the bacteria. Doctors performed a test on pieces of the aorta wall and confirmed the infection.
Husky Head Wound
On her daily walks on the Los Alamitos Creek Trail in 2011, San Jose resident Beverly Head was walking on the trail, a bicyclist and his two Siberian huskies passed her. When one of the leashes caught her behind the legs, she fell and struck her head. The cyclist stayed behind until paramedics arrived. Head underwent surgery but succumbed to the trauma.
Hot Spring Hound
On July 20, 1981, 24-year-old David Allen Kirwan arrived at Yellowstone National Park with his friend Ronald Ratliff and Ratliff’s large dog, Moosie. Moosie ran from the truck and jumped into the hot spring measuring over 93 degrees Celsius (200 °F). Kirwan ran into the hot spring and then dove headfirst into the water in an attempt to rescue Moosie. He was unable to reach the dog and tried to climb out. Kirwan suffered third-degree burns over 100 percent of his body. His eyes were completely white, and his skin was peeling. He died the next day.
Bird Dog Blast
Perry Alvin Price III was an avid hunter who loved his tracking dog, a chocolate Labrador retriever named Arthur. On January 5, 2008, Price and Arthur went hunting with Price’s friend Daniel Groberg. Price shot a goose and placed his gun in the back of his truck, preparing to release Arthur to retrieve the bird. Groberg heard a shotgun blast and found Price shot in the thigh and bleeding. Grosberg tried to stop the bleeding, but Price had been hit in the femoral artery and was losing blood fast. Groberg drove Price to the hospital, but Price succumbed to the severe blood loss. During the investigation of the tragic incident, muddy paw prints were found on the shotgun.
Mexican teenager Rubi Ibarra Garcia’s 15th birthday is a story of its own. Garcia’s party featured a traditional chiva, a horse race. During the chiva, 66-year-old Felix Pena, owner of the racehorse Oso Dormido, thought that all the horses had passed by when he decided to cross the dirt racetrack. As he crossed the track, he was struck at high speed by his own racehorse. He was fitted with a neck brace and carried to an ambulance, but he died before reaching the hospital.
A Florida man, 68-year-old James Campbell, was returning to his home with his wife, Iris Fortner, in their van. When Campbell got out of the passenger side to open the gate while Fortner backed the van into the driveway. In a freak accident, the couple’s pet boxer ran to the vehicle and jumped into the driver’s side, pressing the accelerator. Fortner was unable to stop the vehicle before it struck Campbell, trapping him underneath. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
67-year-old Waskom, Texas, resident Gerald Rushton kept several exotic animals in pens behind his house, including a red stag he had raised from a fawn. The stag was entering the rutting period (breeding season), which is associated with elevated hormone levels. When Rushton entered the stag’s enclosure, the deer pinned Rushton against the fence with its horns, gored him, and trampled him. Rushton’s granddaughter saw the attack and ran to get help. When deputies arrived, they had to shoot the aggressive stag to enter the pen. Rushton was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Virginia Beach woman, 25-year-old Amanda Ruth Black, worked at Pet Paradise in the reptile department. Black and her husband owned several snakes, including a 4-meter-long (13 ft) tiger reticulated python named Diablo. On October 21, 2008, Black’s husband returned to find his wife dead. Diablo’s glass container was empty, and a message on the whiteboard read “Medicate Diablo.”The investigation revealed that she had died from asphyxiation by neck compression. She was attempting to give Diablo medicine with a syringe when the python used its deadly grip on her.
Florence Lenahan, a 74-year-old woman in Delaware, Ohio, devoted her time and property to helping horses, llamas, cows, cats, and dogs.she was particularly fond of a llama named Baby Doll. One fateful day, Lenahan’s friend Kevin Scott arrived at her home and found Lenahan on the ground. She was conscious. Baby Doll had slipped on the wet grass running to greet Lenahan and had run into her, causing her head to strike the concrete. Lenahan suffered head and arm injuries in the collision and was taken to Riverside Methodist Hospital, where she died of her injuries.
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