A much-loved family dog died after it caught an infection from licking a food recycling bin.
Dexter, a six-year-old cockapoo, was in the garden when the caddy – which had just been emptied by binmen but not yet cleaned – blew over.
He licked the traces of food that remained, but within minutes began to suffer fits and struggled to breathe. Owner Sarah Dent, 42, rushed him to a vet.
Sarah Dent, 42 with Dexter the cockapoo, aged 6. The family pet died from an infection after licking a food recycling bin
The family were told Dexter had developed potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome caused by mould which had begun growing on scraps of bread.
After a week in intensive care, vets said there was nothing more they could do, and Mrs Dent and her husband along with their three sons said an emotional goodbye to Dexter before he was put to sleep.
Now the family want to warn other households about the hidden health hazards from food waste bins, dubbed ‘slop buckets’ when they were first introduced by councils to boost recycling rates.
Mrs Dent said yesterday: ‘Our family will never be the same again. Dexter was so unique and had huge character. It is my job to keep my children and animals safe and I failed to do that this time.’
She added: ‘It is really important that people understand that food needs to be recycled safely. All councils must make sure people are aware of this danger because I had no idea and it has shocked lots of people.’
The boys in the Dent family - Peter, 41, Jame, 14, Judge, 11, and Joseph, six, saying goodbye to Dexter
Mrs Dent, whose husband Peter, 41, is a software consultant, lives with children Jamie, 14, Jude, 11, and Joseph, six, in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
Their local authority, Dacorum Borough Council, issues residents with a food waste caddy to be kept in the kitchen as well as a larger kerb-side caddy that is emptied weekly.
After the food waste was collected on February 3, Mrs Dent put the large caddy back in the garden, intending to clean it later.
But to her horror she found Dexter convulsing after licking the inside of the caddy, which had blown over in high winds, and along with her sons rushed the unconscious dog to her local vets in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.
The men of the Dent family with Dexter and black cockapoo, Georgie, who survived the same incident
Georgie, had also fallen ill when they returned home and had to take her in as well, with both dogs placed in induced comas
They kept him in for observation, but in a further blow they found their other cockapoo, Georgie, had also fallen ill when they returned home and had to take her in as well, with both dogs placed in induced comas. Happily, Georgie recovered.
Vets said Dexter suffered an extreme reaction to toxins produced by mould that grows on bread, cheese, pasta and walnuts.
The bill for Dexter’s treatment is expected to be as much as £7, 000, of which insurance will cover £3, 000. Mrs Dent said the family would continue to recycle but would in future ensure the caddies are always secured.
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