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Tag: hazard

When what can go wrong does

Here’s a scenario that — even before I saw this frightening video — has flashed through my mind often since I became a dog walker.

As a natural-born worrier (I suspect it’s in my genes), I’m prone to assessing the situation I’m in — even when it’s an entirely pleasant one — and picturing the worst thing that could possibly happen, no matter how unlikely it is.

After six decades, I still haven’t totally gotten over my fear of being sucked under the escalator grate as the step I’m standing on flattens out and disappears.

In my dog walking job, I visit three small dogs at an assisted living center, take them down the elevator, out for a walk, and then back up the elevator to their masters’ rooms.

The possibility of this happening, or something like it, popped into my head my first day.

What if, as the elevator doors closed, a dog darted out, ending up on the opposite side as the elevator went down?

I’ve kept a firm grip on the retractable leash — and kept it in the locked position — ever since having that mental image. After seeing this video, I’ll keep an even firmer one.

Tamara Seibert, a college student in Toronto was riding the elevator March 2 with two dogs — hers and a friends. They were heading from her condo unit down to the parking garage. As the doors closed, the end of her dog’s leash was caught outside the elevator.

Vado, her five-year-old, 110-pound Rottweiler, was violently jerked upward as the elevator descended, and Seibert struggled to remove his collar, breaking two fingers in the process, she told the Toronto Sun.

“I thought I was going to watch him die,” Seibert said.

Thankfully, the clasp on Vado’s leash snapped under pressure, and he fell to the floor about the same time the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Thankfully too, Vado’s prong-type collar had been put on with the prongs on the outside.

Seibert, a student at Ryerson University, obtained video from the surveillance camera and posted it on her Facebook page as a warning to others.

It was reposted to YouTube, where it’s drawing all sorts of insensitive comments from people who would rather get in a good jab than learn something from someone else’s experience.

Painful as it is to watch, it’s a teachable moment, and one that proves not all my unnatural fears are that unnatural.

I, for one, have become even more cautious on the elevator, and I’m contemplating switching to the stairs — especially if I’m ever taking two dogs with me at once.

As for Vado, he’s fine.

“I can’t believe its been almost a month since I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” Seibert wrote in a Facebook post. “I thought I was about to lose the love of my life (my puppy) and seriously mangled my hand in the process … I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong.”

Human poop poses problem for Berlin dogs

biodegradable pet waste bagsThe health hazards that unscooped dog waste in public places can pose to humans has been well-established, well-documented and well-hollered-about.

So — yucky as it is – it’s only right to share some news that shows the reverse side of the equation can be true, too.

According to a report from the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, dogs in Berlin are being sickened by human feces left in some public parks frequented by drug users.

Veterinarians say they’ve seen an increase in such poisonings.

Dogs who ingest the waste show symptoms that include shaking, dehydration and difficulty walking. Tests on dogs have found heroin and other illegal drugs present in their systems.

Vets say most cases took place in parks the city’s Treptow and Kreuzberg areas, where drug users are known to gather, especially at night.

Berlin-based veterinarian Reinhold Sassnau told Tagesspiegel that the poisonings are rarely fatal. Most dogs recover if they quickly receive treatment, which includes inducing vomiting. Otherwise, prolonged treatment might be required.

Just something to keep in mind next time you (or your dog) step in a  pile of dog poop (or is it?) at the park.

Is new Chevrolet ad pawlitically incorrect?

Remember the old Chevrolet commercial — baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?

Well, decades later, the car company has, for the sake of selling motor vehicles, gotten around to acknowledging another piece of Americana — the dog; specifically, the dog in the pickup truck; more specifically, the dog in a Chevrolet pickup.

And that, they will find out as the new ad airs, if they haven’t yet, is some tricky ground.

It’s one of those topics that raises the hackles of animal welfare activists, some of whom who say under no conditions should a dog be riding in the bed of a pickup , some of whom say it’s acceptable if the dog is crated or restrained, all of whom say riding in the cab would be preferable.

And they are right. For safety’s sake, it probably would be.

Last week, in “Travels with Ace,” the continuing saga of the trip Ace and I are taking across America, we showed you Jake, a golden retriever in Oregon still sporting injuries he received when he tumbled out the back of a moving pickup. We did so without casting judgments or getting preachy, because our road trip is not about how dogs should live in America, only about how they do live in America.

In much of rural America, dogs are still dogs. They roam their property, and perhaps that of other’s, at their will. They chase and sometimes kill wildlife. Some even live, gasp, outside. And they ride in the back of pickups, which virtually all animal welfare organizations will tell you is a bad idea.

The Chevy ad, to its credit, doesn’t show any dogs in the beds of moving pickups, but, even so, I’m predicting it will lead to some lively debate if it airs widely.

On YouTube, it has already started — through Internet comments, gracious and civil as  always.

“Cute video, but I wish Chevy wouldn’t advocate the dogs in the back unless in a crate. Since I have seen a dog fly out of the back of a truck on a busy highway, I am traumatized for life. It should be illegal and is some places for your dog to ride loose in the bed of your truck unless you are on your own dirt road on your property with no other cars around and are willing to pay the vet bill if your dog falls out…”

“If I thought for a second my dog would ever jump out, he wouldn’t ride back there. And he doesn’t on the interstate. But on going into town, on rural country roads, and on my ranch, he will always ride in the back and he wouldn’ t have it any other way. MIND YOUR OWN F***ING BUSINESS FAG…”

“Greatest commercial! Too bad liberal know it all’s have created laws against dogs riding in truck beds! Apparently (like most libs) they know what’s best for us, and will make laws accordingly. My dog will ride in the back forever though, they can suck his hairy nuts…”

Besides reflecting how crass anonymous internet banter can get — how Internet commenting has replaced the punching bag as man’s default mode of venting hostilities — the discourse shows the cultural divide that exists in this country, one that’s not so much conservative versus liberal as it is rural America versus the rest.

It’s a generalization, but many denizens of rural America don’t want the rest of America making rules that govern their access to firearms, or how they raise their dogs — from whether they spay and neuter to letting them ride in the back of pickups.

There’s something to be said for letting a dog being a dog — as opposed to spending life on a leash or in a handbag – but is putting Rover in the back of a pickup letting a dog be a dog? In my view, it’s courting disaster.

Yet, while many experts also advise that dogs in cars be crated or restrained, Ace is traveling acoss the country unrestrained in the back of my Jeep.

Maybe that’s why I don’t come down harder on dogs in pickups; maybe it’s a degree of respect for rural ways; or maybe it’s because the surest way to make people become more entrenched in a bad habit is to tell them they can’t do it anymore.

FDA: Don’t give the dog a bone, ever

dog-boneGiving your dog a bone — any bone —  is a dangerous practice that can cause serious injury to your pet, the Food and Drug Administration says.  

It’s not like they’re recalling bones, but the agency has issued a warning in an article appearing on the FDA’s online Consumer Updates page.

However popular the idea may be that it’s natural for dogs to chew on bones, the tradition –  knick-knack paddy-whack aside — falls into the danger zone, in the FDA’s view.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

The FDA lists 10 reasons why bones are a bad idea — and we’ll pass them on verbatim:

  1. Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
  3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
  4. Bone gets stuck in esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your veterinarian.
  5. Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to your veterinarian immediately!
  6. Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. It may be time for surgery.
  8. Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian.
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see your veterinarian.
  10. Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

“Always supervise your dog with any chew product, especially one your dog hasn’t had before,” adds Stamper. “And always, if your dog ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

We agree with those last two points, at least, but can’t help but wonder if a total bone ban may be a bit over-protective, a bit contrary to the nature and roots of dogs, and one more step in turning dogs into humans.

Most bones are bad — chicken bones, as we all know, in particular. But there are those that, with supervision, I don’t hesitate to give my particular dog,  like marrow bones. They can help clean teeth, massage gums and, in my dog’s experience, seem quite safe.

What school are you in when it comes to bones? Do you think some are OK? Do you ban them in your household?  Do you have a bone to pick with the FDA? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

FDA reviewing complaints about dog treats

boneReal Ham Bone for Dogs — dog treats made in Missouri from the femurs of pigs — are under review by the Food and Drug Administration after complaints of them causing serious injury and death in dogs.

If warranted, an FDA spokesman said, the FDA will take appropriate action and notify the public, the Associated Press reported.

The product — a smoked pig femur sold as a dog treat or chew bone — is distributed nationally under the Dynamic Pet Products label of Frick’s Quality Meats in Washington, Mo.

The company said Thursday it was saddened to learn of the illnesses and deaths of customers’ pets, and that quality and safety remain priorities. The packaging contains a warning about the product not being for all dogs, and the possibility that it could splinter.”

“That is why every package contains a label that provides detailed instructions to owners on how they can help their pets best enjoy our products,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly encourage owners to supervise their pets with any treats or snacks.”

The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis said consumers have complained about the bones splintering, and pieces  obstructing dogs’ intestines. Consumers reported their dogs had become lethargic or were vomiting. One man came home to find his dog dead, bleeding from the mouth.

Wieners: Best over-reactor in a dramatic roll

Hotdog

 
Does the hot dog need a makeover?

The nation’s largest pediatricians group thinks so. The American Academy of Pediatrics — un-American as it may sound —  is calling for sweeping changes in the way the hot dog is designed to minimize children’s chances for choking.

In a policy statement issued earlier this week, the group identified the hot dog as the greatest food-related choking hazard to children, particularly those ages 3 and younger, and said the shape plays a large role in making it unsafe.

The academy proposes warning labels be placed on hot dogs, and that consideration be given to manufacturing them — gasp! — in the shape of a patty.

The academy cited statistics showing 17 percent of food-related choking deaths among children come from from hot dogs. Other common food choking hazards include grapes, apples, popcorn and nuts, the group said. Of the 141 choking deaths in kids 14 and under in 2006, 61 were food-related, according to an Associated Press story.

The doctors say high-risk foods — including hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes and apples – should be served to small children in pea-sized pieces to reduce chances of choking.

We’d agree with that much, but we think it’s up to parents, as opposed to the government, to see that  their childrens’ food is cut into manageable pieces.

(Click here for all of the Wiener Awards.)

Dog sticks tongue in paper shredder

shredderHere’s a household pet hazard that — dastardly as it is — you don’t hear about too often.

But first the moral of the story: If you have a pet at home, or a child for that matter, don’t ever leave your paper shredder on automatic.

The owners of a mixed breed dog named Diamond found that out the hard way last week, when their 8-year-old dog licked their’s, only to have her tongue pulled into the sharp blades.

“She had licked a paper shredder in the house that was set on automatic,” Dr. Marc Wosar, of Miami Veterinary Specialists, told TV station WPLG.

Fortunately, Diamond’s owners were home and responded quickly. They disconnected the head of the shredder, carefully taking it and the dog whose tongue it held to the animal hospital.

“We anesthetized her first, then reversed the shredder off the tongue and assessed the damage,” said Wosar. “There were a lot of lacerations to the tongue as well as a lot of bite wounds. In her panic, she’d also bitten her tongue.”

It took more than a 100 stitches to repair Diamond’s tongue. A portion that was too severely damaged had to be removed, but doctors expect her to make a full recovery.

“She just won’t have a perfectly round tongue. She’ll have a little nick in it,” said Wosar.

(Photo: WPLG)