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Marley gets into a stick-y situation

A five-year-old Jack Russell cross narrowly dodged death thanks to charity vets after becoming impaled on stick during a game of fetch.

Following the incident, vet charity PDSA is warning dog owners to avoid throwing sticks after Marley was left with life-threatening injuries.

Explaining what happened, owner Jemma Hammerton (22) from Willenhall, said: “We were out on our usual walk when a stick I had thrown dug itself into the mud and was pointing upwards. Marley ran to get it but didn’t stop in time and the stick got lodged in the back of his mouth.

“I ran over and he was desperately trying to get it out with his paws, and in a panic I pulled it out of his mouth. There was blood pouring from his throat and he immediately become limp and lifeless. I thought we were going to lose him, it was just awful.”

Thankfully, the bleeding had stopped by the time Marley’s owner got him to Wolverhampton PDSA Pet Hospital, where vets examined the large swelling beneath his chin and gave him antibiotics and pain relief.

He was released the same day but under strict observation and instructed to get plenty of rest to help his recovery. However, over time the wound started to get bigger and very inflamed.

“It was like there was something there trying to push its way out. It looked incredibly sore and he was acting so out of character, I knew something wasn’t right so we took him back to PDSA to get it checked.”

PDSA Vet Zadie Looker said: “Marley was very poorly and our only option was to operate to investigate the lump. During the operation we discovered there were some tiny pieces of the stick still left in his neck that the body was reacting to.”

After an extremely intricate operation, and a nervous wait for Marley’s adoring owner, he was able to go home with antibiotics and pain relief, and is now making a remarkable recovery.

PDSA vets are warning that the accident underlines how dangerous throwing sticks for dogs can be. The charity regularly sees stick-related injuries across its 48 Pet Hospitals and is encouraging people to avoid throwing sticks, especially to keep pets safe during the coronavirus crisis when many vets are running an emergency-only service. Playing with, or even just chewing, sticks can lead to wounds in the mouth and throat, sticks getting lodged in the mouth, dogs choking or intestinal blockages.

Zadie added: “The most serious injuries tend to occur when a dog runs into a stick that has become lodged in the ground after being thrown, and the dog becomes impaled, just like Marley. In Marley’s case, he was extremely lucky to have not to have got nerve damage or dangerous levels of blood loss from the initial injury.

“We love to see people exercising their pets and playing games like fetch, but we’d encourage pet owners to use safer alternatives to sticks, such as a dog-safe ball.”

Jemma added: “I want to urge other owners not to let their dogs play with sticks while out walking. I learnt the hard way and I don’t want anyone else to go through what Marley’s been through.”

“Marley means the world to me and I am forever grateful to everyone at PDSA who were absolutely brilliant. He’s like a therapy dog to me, so I was distraught when I thought we were going to lose him. I can’t thank them enough for everything they did in keeping Marley with me, I dread to think what would have happened if we didn’t have them. They are a God-send.”

In times of uncertainty and hardship, pets like Marley will still fall ill or be injured and need emergency, life-saving care.

PDSA relies on the kindness of hundreds of thousands of people who support the charity every year to help the pets of vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn. But the financial impact on PDSA as a result of the pandemic is huge and the charity is losing around £3 million a month in income. PDSA rely entirely on public support and receive no government funding for our veterinary services. Please donate to help stop suffering and save pets lives when there is nowhere else to turn: www.pdsa.org.uk/appeal.

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