Dogs are naturally attracted to smelly bait – the only problem is sometimes that bait conceals a nasty surprise in the form of a fish hook.
Dr Kym Sutherland of the Narooma Veterinary Hospital has issued a warning to dog owners and fishermen after operating on two dogs that tangled with fish hooks on local beaches in the past week.
The most serious case involved Flash, the five-year-old, tri-colour border collie from Cooma who was holidaying at Bermagui with her owners.
Last week, she came across a fisherman on a Bermagui beach and quick as a flash had swallowed the tasty bait on the end his line, leaving the fishing line protruding from her mouth and a guilty look on her face.
Her owners rushed her to the Narooma Veterinary Hospital where Dr Sutherland was able to clearly see the fish hook on X-ray images, making the call to operate immediately.
“The fish hook was actually embedded in her stomach lining so we performed what is called a gastrostomy, opening the stomach to remove the hook,” he said.
Flash has now fully recovered and is back with her owners looking forward to more walks on the beach, although without fish hooks this time.
The other case in the past week involved Koda the female chocolate Labrador, who resides in the Narooma area.
She was found wandering the beach by herself by a member of the Eurobodalla Animal Welfare League, who noticed a fish hook hanging off Koda’s top lip.
After being delivered to Dr Sutherland, he gave her quick anesthetic and cut the hook out of her lip in a simple procedure. She too has now been reunited with her owners and is also looking forward to more beach walks, although with supervision this time.
And supervision by dog owners is key to preventing what is a surprisingly regular occurrence, according to Dr Sutherland.
“Be aware of fisherman that may be around on the beach and keep your dog well away from their bait and fishing gear,” he said. “It only takes a second to swallow bait so keep your dog under control.”
His partner and vet nurse at the surgery, Kate Sutherland also implored fishermen to do the right thing and always dispose of fishing tackle and bait properly and keep it clear of passing dogs.
“Try and do the right thing and keep your hooks away from where they can cause harm,” she said.
Another potentially dangerous issue with dogs on beaches is canines ingesting deadly puffer fish or toadfish. Click here for our story on the unfortunate death of a local Labrador