A LABRADOR was left “howling in agony” after a three-inch barbed fish hook left on a Barton beach became embedded in his paw.
It is the fourth pet in just two months to have been left severely injured by discarded fishing tackle at Fisherman’s Walk next to the Beachcomber Café.
A sign warning pet owners about the dangers of the hooks being left behind by anglers has recently been put up by a member of the public on a post at the top of the path which leads down to the beach.
Erected opposite a NFDC sign saying “Leave nothing but footprints, take your litter home” the notice says: “Warning to dog owners, fishermen leaving hooks and bait on beach. 3 dogs injured. One seriously.”
But unfortunately the owners of Bentley the Lab, Sue and Gary Palmer, did not see it before they went down to use their beach hut on Sunday with their daughter, 27-year-old Ellie.
Instead they became aware of the danger only when seven-year-old Bentley suddenly began making a “hideous noise” when he trod on the hook.
Sue, (55) who runs a string of nurseries in Hampshire and Wiltshire with her husband, said: “We were having a lovely time as usual. Bentley really adores going to the beach, he was playing by the sea with Ellie.
“She was throwing a tennis ball to him and he was going in and out of the sea. I went down to see them and Bentley came bounding towards me to greet me, as he does.
“As he then jumped back over some rocks he suddenly started making this awful noise. Every time he put his right paw down he was howling in agony – it was horrid to see.
“I thought he had broken his leg he was in so much pain.”
Sue and her daughter rushed to Bentley’s side and realised he had a large fish hook imbedded in his paw which was still attached to a string and weight.
She said: “I tried to pull it out but it was barbed and stuck fast. People on the beach were absolutely amazing, when they realised what was happening they all rallied round to help us. The people who own a hut next to us let us use their trolley to take Bentley up to our car. Someone also gave us a blanket to wrap him in. He was shivering because he was wet and was also going into shock.”
The couple rushed Bentley to the Forest Lodge vets in Barton where he had emergency surgery to remove the hook. Afterwards they returned to the beach to lock up their hut only to find a kind fellow owner had already done it for them.
She said: “The camaraderie of people on the beach was really touching. They had tidied away all our things. Lots of people were coming up asking how Bentley was.”
Sue said: “He recovered well but on Monday we had another scare because he suddenly went really quiet and wouldn’t do anything. He was just lying down. We took him to the vets really scared but they checked him over and said he was fine, just in a lot of pain, and gave him more painkillers.”
The couple, who live in Salisbury, say they expect the final vet bill for Bentley to top “well over £500” although he is insured.
Sue said: “What really upsets me is the thought of a child standing on that hook. There were lots of families that day on the beach.
“A fish hook is a really nasty, vicious thing to stand on. I can’t understand why fishermen are leaving them there. It’s awful.”
The couple intend to complain to NFDC about the incident.
Sue said: “We have been told fish hooks being left on the beach there has become a regular occurrence, something really needs to be done. We will be taking Bentley there but before letting him off the lead we will take a good look round to make sure there are no hooks about.”
Earlier this year the A&T reported how two dogs got fish hooks in their paws after their owners took them to the beach at Fisherman’s Walk. A tiny cavalier King Charles spaniel also nearly died in July after it swallowed bait which had a hook attached to it.
The dog had to undergo several operations, costing its owners several thousand pounds in vet bills.
A spokesperson for New Forest District Council told the A&T: “To leave any waste on the beach is illegal littering. We would remind all people fishing at the coast to take all their equipment home or dispose of it correctly, and to ‘leave nothing but footprints’.
“Sometimes things, like hooks, can wash up on the beach, and so we would also remind dog owners to remain vigilant while on the beach.”