Mum’s ‘unbearable guilt’ after puppy is crushed to death in reclining sofa

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A devastated mum is living with “unbearable guilt” after her nine-month-old puppy died when he was crushed by a reclining sofa – bought just days earlier. Claire Hilton, 53, and daughter Kerry, 30, were tidying their living room on Thursday morning when Kerry tried to put the leg rest of the new electric sofa back down to its original position.

The pair heard French bulldog Kobe yelp out in pain and it was only then they realised he’d crept underneath the sofa. Mum-of-two Claire said she desperately tried to release Kobe by reclining the sofa but his neck was tangled in the bars and he was struggling to breathe.

While Claire continued trying to free him, Kerry rushed next door for help and her neighbours tried to release Kobe with an angle grinder but the frame was too thick so she was forced to call the fire brigade.

By the time firefighters arrived 10 minutes later Kobe had fallen unconscious.

When they managed to cut him loose, the tiny pooch was given CPR and an oxygen mask but tragically it was too late.

Claire says she now lives with “unbearable guilt” as they’d only picked up the second hand Fabb Furniture sofa five days earlier.

Her three grandchildren Isla, 10, Evie, seven, and Amelia, five, have also been left heartbroken by the tragedy.

The financial analyst is now urging people to be careful around reclining sofas, especially those with children and pets, so no-one else goes through what they have.

Claire, from Poole, Dorset, said: “I heard Kerry playing with the dogs in the kitchen, they followed her to the living room and he just went under there without us noticing.

“She wasn’t sat on the sofa, she was just tidying up the room and putting the recliner back.

“We heard him yelp and Kerry said ‘oh my God, Kobe is under there’ so we tried to open it.

“We thought we’d put it back up and he’d be alright but he was stuck in the mechanics and he was panicking.

“His head was stuck under one of the bars and it was tightening.

“Every time we moved it, it got tighter. It was strangling him. We both tried to get him out but we just couldn’t.

“We ran next door and got a grinder to grind the bar away because it’s quite thick.

“Kerry called the fire brigade and they got there within ten minutes, he’d gone all quiet.

“They got him out and tried to resuscitate him but he’d gone and it was terrible, it all happened so quickly.

“The grandkids were coming down for the morning but we told them not to.

“We’re devastated. We only had the sofa for five days, we wish we’d never got it but it never occurred to us that something like this could happen.

“We felt absolutely helpless in helping him and the guilt is now unbearable.”

CEO of Fabb Furniture Matt Hesketh said his “deepest sympathies go out to the family”.

He also said the company takes “great care” to ensure all customers are given a care guide stating that children and animals should be kept at a great distance when opening and closing the furniture.

School lunchtime assistant Kerry, who also has a two-year-old French Bulldog called Pepper, paid £300 for the sofa that they picked up on Saturday, October 22.

Claire claims it didn’t come with a care guide because they bought it second hand from a seller on social media.

Claire said her grandchildren have been left heartbroken and she has had to explain to five-year-old Amelia that Kobe has ‘gone to a better place’.

Pepper is missing her little brother and lays on the sofa where the pup passed away.

Claire said: “The kids are devastated, the eldest is absolutely heartbroken, Evie was a bit upset and Amelia doesn’t understand.

“She kept asking questions and we just told her ‘he’s in a nice place now’.

“After he passed away, we put him in a quilt and laid him on the floor and Pepper was going over to him. It’s best for her to see because dogs know.

“She lays on the sofa where Kobe died.

“We’re just devastated. He was full of life, he got himself into mischief and he just wanted to play all the time.”

Heartbroken Claire said the sofa will be going to the tip and she is now speaking out to warn other pet owners about the potential dangers of reclining chairs.

Claire said: “We didn’t realise how dangerous these sofas are with all the mechanics underneath.

“I want to make people aware of how easily they can get underneath without you realising, because a lot of people have these recliners.

“It’s dangerous for little children or cats [if they climb underneath]. The bars underneath are very thick and the mechanism is strong, it can just crush you. We wish we hadn’t bought it now.

“After what’s happened, I definitely wouldn’t buy a reclining sofa.

“We’ll be getting a new sofa. We’ve unplugged it so it can’t be reclined but it’s broken because the fire brigade had to cut it.

“We’re still processing what’s happened so we haven’t even looked yet.”

CEO of Fabb Furniture, Matt Hesketh, said: “We take great care to ensure that with every sale we make our customers are given a Fabb Care Guide which clearly states under the heading Recliner Dos and Don’ts that ‘Unless supervised by a responsible adult, children must not be allowed to operate motion furniture’.

“The guide also warns ‘when opening and closing reclining furniture ensure children and animals are kept at a safe distance’.

“This Care Guide information is also freely available on our website.

“The recliner in question was sold [on social media], therefore, not being a customer of ours, Claire Hilton is unlikely to have received the necessary information required with this purchase.

“The general public should be wary of buying furniture with moving mechanisms second hand as they are often sold with no guarantees that they are working correctly and no guidelines to safe operation.

“The recliner mechanism in question is commonly used in many furniture ranges and supplied by the majority of large furniture retailers.

“Whilst we cannot change the very sad outcome of this incident, Fabb Furniture will continue to uphold its responsibility to highlight to its customers how to safely operate reclining furniture.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family following this tragic incident.”

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service have been contacted for comment.