WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Shocking image of dog impaled by stick after game of fetch in South Yorkshire
A vet clinic in Doncaster and a thankful pair of dog owners have issued a warning after a young dog came within half an inch of death after impaling himself on a stick during a game of fetch.
Charlie, a Cocker Spaniel Border Collie cross suffered a punctured lung and broken rib when the stick ripped through his chest after it reared up from the ground when he jumped on it.
The stick wedged itself into the one-year-old’s chest at a 90-degree angle, missing his heart by just half an inch.
Staff from the Vet Now pet clinic raced to the scene and, after working by mobile phone torchlight, they succeeded in stabilising Charlie, rushing him back to the clinic to carry out a lifesaving operation on his injuries.
Several hours of surgery and three nights in intensive care later, Charlie was well enough to go home and, amazingly, a month on he has made a full recovery.
Now his owners, Mark and Michelle Richardson, have released a graphic photo of Charlie with the stick jutting out of his chest.
They hope the shocking picture will convince others to think twice about throwing a stick for their dog, a practice which can often lead to unintended injury and harm.
Sales director Mark, 53, said: “It seems the most natural thing in the world – but, as we’ve learned, letting your dog play with a stick can have terrible consequences.
“Please, if you’re thinking of throwing a stick for your dog, think again. Seeing Charlie in the pain he was in that night was just horrific – I wouldn’t want anyone else or any other dog to have to suffer that.”
Charlie was out for his regular evening walk with Mark and Michelle along a canal towpath near their home in Barnby Dun, Doncaster, when disaster struck.
As Charlie chased after the stick, he landed on it at such speed that it cannoned up underneath him and speared itself into his body.
Mark said: “Charlie was 20 or 30 yards in front of us when we heard this awful yelping noise. We ran towards him and he was spinning around on his right front leg as though he’d brokenthe left.
“He was trying to reach the stick with his mouth to try and pull it out. There were five or six inches of the stick poking out but it was wedged solid inside him. There was blood everywhereand poor Michelle started screaming. It was just awful to see.”
“If just one person reads this and decides not to throw a stick for their dog then Michelle and I will be very relieved.”
“It was a race against time, Charlie was getting colder and colder and at one point I thought we were losing him. When they put him on the stretcher into the ambulance, I wasshouting out, ‘Stay with us Charlie, stay with us.”
Charlie arrived at Vets Now’s pet emergency clinic at around 10.30pm and he was kept under close observation until the following morning as the veterinary team worked to painstakinglyremove the stick and assess the damage.
As if a punctured lung and broken rib were not bad enough, staff were concerned that Charlie might also acquire a blood infection from the dirty stick, but against all odds he pulled through.
Now, incredibly, Mark says Charlie, who will be two next month, is back to his normal self.
“We’ve learned the lesson,” said Mark. “If just one person reads this and decides not to throw a stick for their dog then Michelle and I will be very relieved.”
Ruth Robertson, one of the emergency vets involved in the incredible case, said Charlie’s horrific injuries demonstrate just how dangerous sticks can be to dogs.
“Charlie is a very lucky dog,” said Ruth. “The injuries he sustained are among the worst I’ve seen in a case like this and it really was touch and go for him for a while.
“In reality, he only survived thanks to the fast reactions of his owners and the skill and professionalism of the vets and vet nurses involved in his treatment.
“The image of the stick lodged in his chest will live with me forever and it still astonishes me that it missed all his vital organs.”
Ruth added: “I’d echo Charlie’s owners’ warning about sticks. While it’s rare to see a penetrative wound as severe as this, we often see cases of sticks injuring the mouth and throat.“I’d urge other owners to only throw well-made toys for their dogs. There are loads of things which are far safer than sticks.”
The Vets Now clinic in Doncaster — where Charlie received treatment — was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
It’s one of 59 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.
All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times, to find out more visit www.vets-now.com