"Roddy," a 9-month-old Norwegian elkhound, wandered from his South Central City home the evening of Jan. 1, and never returned.
The next day, his heartbroken owner placed newspaper ads and nailed up "lost dog" posters around the neighborhood.But none of it could save Roddy, who was already dead, strangled by a "choke chain" his owner had placed around his neck, ostensibly for training purposes.
It was the second such death this month, prompting the Humane Society of Utah to warn dog owners about the dangers of choke chains.
"They aren't called `choke chains' for nothing," said John Paul Fox, the society's chief investigator. "They are to be used only during a dog's training session. Period."
Responding to a neighbor's complaint on Jan. 6, Fox found the dog suspended from a chain-link fence in the back yard of a home in the 300 East block of Coatsville Avenue (1790 South), about a block from Roddy's home.
"It was really bad," Fox said. The dog apparently had tried to climb over the fence, but a loop on its choke chain got caught on the top of the fence. The animal obviously panicked and struggled fiercely, actions that turned the choke chain into a virtual noose.
As the dog lost consciousness, its weight settling downward tightened the choke chain even more.
Fox said the choke chain was so tight around the dog's neck that he had a difficult time getting it off. The dog probably died on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2.
The incident was strikingly similar to one that occurred Jan. 2, four blocks north from where Roddy died.
A German shepherd, left with its choke chain on, choked to death after getting caught on the chain-link fence in its dog run in the 1400 South block of Denver Street (440 East).
Fox said no charges will be filed in the cases because they were accidents.
Such accidents apparently are quite common. During the past 20 years, Fox said, he has "pulled about 50 dead dogs off of fences" in choke-chain mishaps.
"They're just accidents, but they should never happen," he said. "Choke chains should not be used as a collar. They should be used only for training. When training is over, the dog's regular collar, with its identification tags, should be put back on."
The choke chains also can get caught between planks of a wooden deck or patio, trapping the dog away from shelter, food and water.