Animal Welfare

A UT Dallas Grad is on a Mission to Save Pets from Ridiculous Cone-Shaped Veterinary Collars

As inventive as human beings can be, we've never come up with a solid way to keep dogs from mournfully licking their unhealed junk after being neutered. The ubiquitous Elizabethan collar or Cone of Shame, if you will, does the trick but inevitably destroys a pet's self-esteem in the process. Alternatives (See: the BooBooLoon) have their own issues.

Enter a Dallas-area cockatoo named Hagar. Several years ago, the bird began obsessively plucking its feathers. A veterinarian decided it best to put Hagar in one of the ridiculous cones to keep the bird from injuring itself.

Hagar was not impressed.

"They had to put him under to get it on. It lasted about 15 seconds," the bird's owner, Els Bowen told UT Dallas' news service. "As soon as he woke up, he got hold of the corner of it with his beak and it was gone."

Bowen responded by designing and patenting an unobtrusive foam collar that still kept the bird from harming itself. When she later decided that there might be a broader market for the devices, which can be custom-fit for pets of any size, she enlisted the help of her boss at the telecommunications company where she worked, UT Dallas grad Chakri Paila.

Since then, Paila has taken full control of the company, Hagar Collars, as well as the lead in the mission to rid the world of offensively stupid-looking veterinary pet collars. "Every time an order comes in, I get so much satisfaction," he told CNN Money. "I want to grow my business and do it full time."

Pets and their owners are happy, too, as you can tell by the gushing testimonials on the company's website.

One anonymous customer writes, "My cat (LaPerm) was not eating after the surgery. She was feeling awkward with the cone collar. I am really glad I found out about the Hagar Collar. It was easy to customize and put on. My cat got very comfortable with it and started eating after 2 hours."

And another: "It works great, fits well and has really seemed to help. She is not impressed, being the Diva Dog, she thinks it should have some bling or at least be a pretty color, but I certainly am. Also, she doesn't like the fact that it works as it should, meaning she can't move her neck the way she thinks she should be able to."

And another: "I have a small disabled bitch -- if she gets sick or injured she cannot wear a conventional Elizabethan collar - Hagar Collar is a very useful alternative."

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson