Next time you catch your dog chewing on something important to you or scarfing down your momentarily unattended plate of food, just say calmly to yourself, “at least it wasn’t a pile of ammo.”
The story about Benno, the Belgian Malinois who ate 23 live rounds of .308 cal. ammunition, has been making its rounds on the web the last few days, including this story on Texas Fish & Game. It’s a truly remarkable tale, and a testament to not only Benno’s lust for brass and copper, but to the acumen of his veterinarian.
As you can see from the photo, the dog didn’t just swallow the rounds like a handful of ibuprofen, but chewed them, leaving big tooth-shaped dents in the casings. Benno’s owner, Larry Bassfield of Mountain Home, Arkansas, had been putting several hundreds of the cartridges into ammo cans. He had 200 rounds left over when the cans were full. Though his dog had eaten weird stuff before, he’d never shown an interest in ammo, so Bassfield left the .308s in a bag by the bed.
The next day, Brassfield woke up to his wife telling him Benno had thrown up…and there was ammo in the vomit.
“I looked around and thought, ‘Oh my God, he got into the ammo,'” Brassfield said. He hadn’t counted the exact number of rounds in the bag, so he didn’t know how many Benno had gotten into his gut. The dog ate as always, and threw up again a few minutes later. Three more rounds came out.
It was time to take a ride.
“I brought him down to the vet’s and I was on pins and needles,” he said. “They took x-rays and Dr. (Sarah) Shelton counted 15 rounds. From the outlines, I counted at least 17 rounds.”
Brassfield told the doc the ammo consisted only of brass and copper–no lead and no zinc, two metals often found in ammo that can become toxic quickly in dogs. But still, the ammo had to come out, and they couldn’t wait for nature to take its course for fear of what would happen to the dog’s insides.
Shelton operated on Benno for two hours, removing 16 live, highly chewed rounds and one shell from the dog’s stomach. Unfortunately, a post-surgery x-ray revealed two more rounds in the dog’s esophagus. The vet decided not to open the pup again.
“Since the ammo is not toxic, I decided not to go back in,” Shelton said. “I decided we’d give it a week to see if he would vomit them up or pass them.”
Benno excreted one cartridge five days after surgery, and fired off his final round three days after that.
“I won’t be leaving ammunition laying around anymore, I can tell you that,” Brassfield said. Good idea, since a dog that will scarf down that much metal will pretty much eat anything.
To see a video of Benno and his relieved owner, check out this article from the New York Daily News.