BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – For many people, a pet is a part of the family. That’s why it’s important to make sure your pet is safe at all times.

Every week in the U.S., two to three pets die from bag suffocation, according to

For Jason Cooke, a local animal activist, the issue hits close to home.

“In July of 2016, I came home and discovered that one of my cats had climbed into a flip lid container that I was using for their food, and he had become trapped, and he had suffocated. I was just completely devastated. I blamed myself,” he said. 

Cooke said after that, he started researching pet suffocation and found it happens more often than he thought.

It may be something many pet owners overlook, but items such as containers, chip bags or treat bags pose a risk to cats and dogs in the home.

“Common things that you or I wouldn’t consider a danger could be fatal to our dogs and our cats,” Cooke said. “Chip bags, popcorn snack bags, treat bags and cereal bags.”

If a cat or dog sticks its head in a bag, it can be easy for it to suffocate. It can take anywhere from three to five minutes for an animal to die. 

There are preventative measures to take, however.

Cooke said when you buy an item in a bag you should empty it into a plastic container. 

He said it is also important to make sure any containers you have stay sealed and closed to prevent small pets from getting trapped inside. 

Apart from using containers, you should also cut the plastic bags up before disposing of them. This will prevent your pet, or a stray who may get into the trash, from being able to suffocate in them.

Prevent Pet Suffocation is an organization that works toward bringing awareness. Their hope is that companies will begin to place warning labels on bags as well. 

Bonnie Harlan started the organization after her dog suffocated on a chip bag. She said it is important that pet owners are aware of the common threat.

“The problem I found is that nobody really knew that this is a problem,” Harlan said. “Dogs suffocate daily in these bags, and most people don’t know it’s a problem until it happens to them.”

Harlan and Cooke both hope more people will become aware of pet suffocation to prevent it from happening to their furry family members.