Exposure to the fumes of Eileen Wilson's 40 cigarettes a day led to her beloved pet, Peter, developing lung cancer. He died, aged seven, a few days after the disease was diagnosed by a vet. Mrs Wilson, 81, of South Bank, near Middlesbrough, has smoked for 64 years and is not convinced of the passive smoking theory of Peter's death.
'They are likely to catch cold, the same as anybody. I loved Peter - he was like a human being to me and it broke my heart when he died. But I'm not going to give up smoking after all this time. Anyway, it didn't seem to affect the previous budgie I had for 12 years,' she said.
The British Veterinary Society Association said small birds were very sensitive. Canaries had been kept by miners to detect dangerous underground gases.
Studies into the dangers of passive smoking for domestic dogs and cats have been largely inconclusive. A recent study showed that dogs with short/medium length noses were more vulnerable to lung cancer than other breeds.