Game of fetch turns deadly in dog owner’s nightmare
A Sunshine Coast dog owner is warning others to rethink how they play fetch after her pet was stabbed through its neck in a brutal accident.
Kate Gazzard was throwing a stick for her assistance dog Boots when their walk took a traumatic turn.
The Buderim doctor said the stick she threw landed into the ground and as Boots pounced to retrieve it, it wedged inside his body.
"It went into his mouth, punctured through his throat, punctured through his oesophagus, punctured through his neck and chest and into his right shoulder," she said.
"Boots then dropped down to the ground and was basically gasping for breath and essentially dying in front of me."
Luckily Dr Gazzard's local vet was only moments away and within five minutes of the injury, Boots was under general anaesthetic.
"She had a look and said there was a huge amount of trauma in the back of his throat, and that he needed to go straight to the emergency vet," she said.
Although the vet was able to remove the 15cm stick through emergency surgery, Boots wasn't out of the woods yet.
Dr Gazzard said he spent days in intensive care before he developed aspiration pneumonia and later suffered gastric bleeding from the trauma.
"We finally got him home last Friday, and he's been going from strength to strength since," she said.
"He's really recovered very well over the weekend."
Although the vet was able to save Boots' life, Dr Gazzard said the experience was a "huge lesson" for her.
"I never really thought too much about the consequences until two weeks ago when I almost lost my best mate from throwing a stick," she said.
"The vet said they see a lot of stick injuries in dogs, but very, very rarely do they ever see such severe injuries like what happened to Boots.
"Given that Boots is my assistance dog and comes everywhere with me and has for the last two years, to face the prospect of losing him was incredibly traumatic."
Dr Gazzard urged other pet owners to use balls or rubber sticks to ensure the same accident didn't happen again.
"It's not something that I had probably thought a lot about and was fairly carefree with," she said.
"I don't want any other dog owner to have to go through the trauma of seeing their best mate critically injured or die in front of them because of something that I've done, I was the one throwing the sticks to him.
"In terms of being incredibly unlucky, we were very lucky in the circumstances that we were so close to help and that our vet saved his life."