In 2014 our beloved 6-month-old puppy, Gracie, strangled to death on her collar while attending doggie daycare. We were totally blindsided. It was unimaginable that this could happen, in general, let alone in a daycare environment where you are paying professionals to take care of your puppy. But the reality is, it can and does happen. It happens in homes, in backyards, in dog parks, and yes, it happens in daycares. And it happens all over the world.
The Naked Dog Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to collar safety. Our mission is to educate and bring awareness to the dangers that lurk when dogs live and play with collars on.
Collar accidents happen in normal and safe circumstances and they happen regardless of the collar choice. Thousands of dogs are injured or die every year. Many owners are unaware of this danger.
The Naked Dog Project will bring awareness to collar safety. We will educate unknowing animal lovers. We will ask you to consider playing with no collar. We will ask you to be prepared for an emergency. And hopefully we will inspire you to pay it forward. Share what you have learned.
We hope by sharing our story you will never lose your best friend the senseless way we lost our sweet Gracie. Knowledge is powerful. We can save lives.
Time after time we hear, "How did I not know?" We're here to talk to you about collar safety.
My worst nightmare could not have prepared me for the tragic events of April 3, 2014. As most mornings, we snuggled, ate breakfast and hopped in the car. Gracie headed to daycare, mommy headed to work. It was a Thursday. On Thursdays for the past several weeks, Gracie had been going to a new daycare. In an effort to socialize her and give her a variety of experiences, she attended two different daycares and spent Wednesdays at a friend's house playing with her dogs and cat. After all, she was an ornery, 6-month-old Boxer/Great Dane mix with a lot of energy. She loved to play.
I dropped her off at 9:00, told her to have a good day, and headed to work. At 9:20 I got the phone call no one should ever get. "There has been an emergency, you need to get here now. Gracie's airway has been restricted and she is unconscious." Words cannot describe the next hour of my life.
This particular daycare's policy was to sign you in, remove your dog's personal collar (Gracie wore a quick-release martingale), replace it with a choke collar and drag line, and then release them into the play area with all the other dogs sporting choke collars and drag lines. Looking back, how I ever thought that was OK haunts me. But I was a new doggie daycare customer and they were the professionals. They positioned themselves as experts, and were priced higher than most. Their daycare was limited to only six dogs so each dog would have personalized attention, walks, and play time. I trusted them. What could possibly go wrong?
What went wrong that deadly day is a playmate's jaw got tangled in Gracie's collar and she strangled to death. There are many factors that played into the end result of April 3. Inadequate staffing, training, equipment, and lack of basic emergency preparedness played key roles in the senseless death of my beautiful 6-month-old puppy. They placed a choke collar on her (which should NEVER be worn for play) but didn't have a tool onsite to cut it off her neck in case of an emergency. If there would have been a bolt cutter onsite, and the staff prepared to use it, Gracie would be alive today.
Driven by grief and motivated by the need to make a difference, The Naked Dog Project was founded to honor this beautiful puppy, named Gracie, who bounced her way into our hearts on November 9, 2013. She lived her short, amazing life in high gear and she managed to change ours forever. She is gone from this earth, but she motivates and inspires us from beyond every day. RIP sweet girl. #alwayslovedneverforgotten
This is the story of our beloved Gracie and her legacy, The Naked Dog Project. Please take a minute to watch.
As the saying goes, it takes a village. I thank each of you who helped bring this vision to life. Your talent and creativity inspires me. Together, through education and awareness, we will save lives - For Gracie's Sake. Thank you!