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Fish hooks abandoned on beaches are putting dogs and other animals in danger.
John Howe, a senior lecturer in marine geology at Dunbeg’s Scottish Marine Institute, contacted The Oban Times after his dog Juno needed emergency surgery to remove a baited hook from her stomach.
He said: ‘The stitches are out now and she’s as right as rain but she was lucky. Others might not be. It certainly shook us up.
‘I’ve lived in North Connel for four years and must pick up bag of litter every week, especially fishing rubbish in the summer.
‘Last Friday night we let Juno go and I could see her wolfing something down. She had a fish line coming out of her mouth. I tried to gently pull it but it wouldn’t move. I realised to my horror it must have a hook on the other end. She was trying to be sick and couldn’t.
‘We got her home and rang the emergency vet who said to bring her in immediately. He took an X-ray and there was the hook – in her stomach. He operated that night.
‘It made me angry. Why do people leave baited hooks on the beach? There’s a lot left on the beach near the SAMS lab, at Taynuilt near Kelly’s Pier and the shores of Loch Etive.
‘For me, it was a horrifying, unlucky incident what happened to Juno but the vet was not surprised by it, he sees it a lot – particularly around Loch Awe.
‘It’s common to see animals with hooks in their faces and paws. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of man to pick stuff up and take it home.’
Oban vet John Blomfield said the problem is so frequent he keeps a set of metal cutters in the Tweedale Street practice to deal with it.
‘We might see two to three cases per month during the summer. Thankfully, most dogs end up with the hook in their face, which is painful but much easier to resolve than Juno was.
‘I have had to remove a hook similar to Juno’s from a dog’s throat, which was seated in the larynx. And another where the dog had swallowed a treble hook which had become lodged in his oesophagus and had to be removed through the side of his neck,’ he said.
Dog owners are advised not to pull on the line hanging from the dog’s mouth but to cut the line hanging out and get immediate help from a vet.