A family has urged others not to litter on beaches after their dog died from eating barbecue leftovers scattered on sand dunes.
Welsh Springer Spaniel Bandit passed away after eating two discarded corn on the cobs – including the cores – during his regular beach walk at Lytham St Annes, in Lancashire. Despite owner Francis Howarth’s immediate attempt to stop Bandit eating the littered food, the dog had to undergo surgery which led to further complications.
He died three weeks later, leaving his family heartbroken – in particular Francis’ five-year-old son Michael. Francis and husband Nolan shared a video on Facebook of a tearful Michael being told the news that Bandit had been sent to ‘rainbow bridge,’ to raise awareness of the consequences of littering.
‘People from out of town have been coming to St Annes during lockdown because it’s absolutely beautiful but there’s just been so much litter left everywhere,’ Francis said. ‘A lot of people don’t know that the centre of a corn on the cob is fatal for dogs. We just want people to realise the devastation this has caused’.
She added: ‘It’s just pure laziness that results in complete and utter heartbreak.’
On June 23, Francis took Bandit for his usual walk on the beach as he ‘loved jumping through the dunes’.
‘They were quite high so he was a bit ahead of me and when I caught up with him I saw he was sniffing around the litter so I obviously stopped him,’ she said.
‘I didn’t know what he’d eaten by that time but I didn’t really think anything of it I just thought “the little bugger” and then off we went’.
A couple of days later Bandit started throwing up and deteriorated rapidly, causing Francis to call the vet who admitted him straight to Blackpool PDSA Pet Hospital.
Vets found an obstruction in his stomach during an examination and Bandit was sent into surgery. During the operation, two cores of corn on the cob that had been buried in the sand were found lodged in his stomach.
‘One of the stalks was in his stomach and one was really far down in is intestines which really wasn’t good,’ Francis said. ‘The vets told us to keep an eye on him but they said he would hopefully recover as he was a young, strong dog, so we thought he would be okay.’
But after a few days at home, Bandit threw up again and the family took him back to the vets. They performed an ultrasound and found yet another obstruction in his stomach.
The family were told they had two choices – to put Bandit down or undergo further surgery to see what the problem was. They chose the latter.
‘An hour later the vet rang me and said that unfortunately where they’d repaired his intestines his stomach had healed itself against the body and there were large sacks of puss which caused peritonitis,’ Francis explained.
‘There was nothing more that they could do to help him, they just had to let him go.’
Following their traumatic ordeal, Francis and Nolan decided to share the moment they told son Michael that their beloved Bandit had died in a bid to urge the public to stop littering. Alongside the video, Nolan wrote: ‘This is what happens when you don’t pick up litter. This is what you do to five-year-olds, you break their heart.’
‘Michael is an only child and since we’ve been home a lot during lockdown they’ve bonded even more. It’s absolutely devastating,’ Francis said.
‘He keeps crying and we’re just trying to explain as best as we can to a five-year-old about rainbow bridge…. We’ve decided that in the clouds if there is ever a shape we’ll say “there’s Bandit in the clouds looking down on us”.’
Francis now wants to urge people to take their rubbish home with them to avoid a similar tragedy happening to another family.
‘I cannot tell you how angry I am it’s just unbelievable,’ she said. ‘It’s not hard to take your rubbish. If you’ve managed to bring the food with you in a carrier bag, just take it back home with you.’
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