Shelter urges people to properly dispose of their masks after stray nearly chokes to death

As we continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, protective face masks have become a part of our lives. They play a big part in reducing the spread of the coronavirus and are required in most public spaces.

While masks certainly save lives, they’ve also caused an unexpected problem: people are not disposing of them properly… and it can cause a big problem for dogs.


After one stray’s near-death experience, a shelter is putting out an urgent warning to get people to properly dispose of their protective gear.

A dog named Gibbs was abandoned and left in a building with two other dogs. At some point, he found a paper face mask someone had tossed away, and ended up swallowing it.

The dog might have choked to death on the mask, but luckily he was found by the Animal Rescue League of Boston, who gave the dog an emergency surgery to dislodge the mask and save his life.

Animal Rescue League of Boston

While Gibbs was saved, they cautioned that this won’t be the only case like this: masks, and other disposable protective gear like gloves, pose a real threat to dogs, pets and wildlife if not disposed of properly.

“Masks can smell like food, and dogs or wildlife may think they’re a treat,” the ARL said in a news release. “These items can cause massive stomach upset or blockages, and the metal nose wire in masks may cause a variety of health issues, including sepsis, which may prove fatal if not treated.”

“When finished with a piece of PPE (personal protective equipment), it should always be disposed of in a covered waste container,” they said. “If not properly disposed of, masks, gloves, and other PPE may become life-threatening hazards, not only to domestic animals but to wildlife as well.”

Meanwhile, Gibbs himself is not only recovering, but he’s up for adoption!

“If you’re interested in setting up an appointment to meet this 7-year-old Schnauzer mix, please reach out to our Boston Adoption team at (617) 426-9170 x604,” Animal Rescue League wrote on Facebook.

We’re so glad Gibbs survived, and we hope he finds a good home soon!

But we hope something like this never happens again — share this story to spread the word about disposing your masks properly!