Boy, 5, Strangled To Death By Family Dog Playing, Pulling On Scarf Too Hard

A Pennsylvania boy who was accidentally strangled by the family dog has died, according to NBC affiliate WJAC, out of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. John Bruno, 5, from Warrington, Pennsylvania, reportedly died three days following a fatal incident involving the family’s 18-month-old hound mix. Investigators say the boy was strangled to death after the dog accidentally pulled a scarf too tightly around his neck while the two were playing in the snow on Wednesday.


News of the boy’s death went viral on social media on Monday, following reports over the weekend that the boy was under heavy sedation but still alive at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The Salisbury Patch out of Salisbury, Pennsylvania, first shared on Facebook last Thursday that the boy remained at CHOP one day after being found facedown and unresponsive in the family’s backyard, adding that Warrington police determined that the young boy had been accidentally strangled by the family dog.

“It appears it was a ‘tragic accident’ in which the boy was accidentally strangled by his scarf while playing in the snow with his dog.”

Warrington Police Chief, Daniel Friel, said that the boy was playing outside in the snow with the family dog on Wednesday afternoon when his mother, Tara Bruno, happened to look out the window and noticed him lying face-down in the snow just before 4:30 p.m — with the dog still “tugging and pulling at his scarf.” According to the boy’s mother, the scarf was “tight around his neck,” and he was unconscious when she untied the scarf and dialed 911.

After administering CPR, emergency medical services first transferred the boy to Doylestown Hospital in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, some 15 minutes from the boy’s Warrington home in the 1900 block of Palomino Drive. The 5-year-old boy was later transferred to CHOP, where he died on Saturday from what Friel is calling a “tragic accident.” WJAC reports that police first thought the boy had collapsed from cardiac arrest while playing with the dog but later determined he had been strangled from the scarf being pulled too tightly around his neck.

According to Fox 29 last Thursday, the investigation is still ongoing, but investigators believe the family’s 1-year-old dog “pulled the scarf too tightly around the child’s neck,” adding that “preliminary details indicate the incident was an unlikely, tragic event.”


An updated report on Philly Voice says that Warrington detectives worked closely with the Philadelphia Medical Examiner to determine on Saturday that the boy’s exact cause of death was “accidental strangulation.”

The Doylestown Patch shared that a winter storm started dumping several inches of snow on Pennsylvania last Tuesday. The boy had reportedly gone outside on Wednesday to play in the snow; bundled in a “snowsuit, a hat, gloves, boots, and a scarf that was wrapped tightly around his neck.”

The Daily Mail reports that the family dog pulled on the boy’s scarf until he passed out and continued pulling on the scarf as the boy lay face-down on the ground — ultimately choking him to death.

John Bruno is being remembered as a “vibrant boy” with ” boundless energy,” according to a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for the boy’s medical and funeral expenses. Philly Voice shares that Amy Ploss Herbert set up the GoFundMe memorial fund one day after the boy died from accidental “ligature strangulation” by the family dog.


Said Herbert on Monday, “I cannot thank everyone enough for your outpouring of love, support, and generosity for Tara, Francis, and Abby. It is overwhelming. I don’t have enough words to say.”

Social media responded to the boy’s accidental death with shock, offering condolences to the family, adding that children should be supervised outside, and also begging for the dog to not be punished.

One comment said that “I can not imagine the pain and loss that the family is feeling. But I must admit that I also have concerns about what will happen to the dog. It was an accident, but I can’t imagine what the parents must feel when they look at the dog and how it will affect the relationship between the family and the dog.”

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