Millions of dollars have been paid for dog injuries in Christchurch
Duncan Ferguson broke his wrist and suffered further injuries from falling after being surprised by a rampaging and snarling border collie in Diamond Harbor. Photo / 123RF
Just walking the dog around the block or lifting a beloved dog in the car for a trip to the vet can have dramatic repercussions for pet owners in Christchurch – and the Society of accident compensation. Chris Barclay discovers that millions are spent every year treating dog-related injuries in the city and across the country.
With dog attacks regularly making headlines, Christchurch man Duncan Ferguson represents a largely unseen statistic as a victim of dog-related injuries where the bark, or lunge, was worse than the bite .
Ferguson was startled by a collie as he ran along the Coastal Cliffs walkway somewhere between Purau Bay and Church Bay in Diamond Harbor in early January 4.
By accident, the New Year’s exercise initiative has already needed five months of recovery and counting.
“I had my headphones on, so I wasn’t really listening to my surroundings and all of a sudden a dog jumped on me growling,” he recalls.
“It surprised me, I tripped over a tree root and it was a pretty steep part of the trail. I tumbled 7 to 10 m on a bank.
“I just felt stupid as anything. Why am I screaming in pain? This is stupid of me. Some kind of man thing. But it was a serious broken wrist.
Ferguson broke his right wrist and suffered cuts, grazes and a shoulder injury that began to be treated last Monday.
“It was just a collie, so it wasn’t anything too big and scary. I grew up with dogs, I’m not afraid of them. I felt stupid for howling in pain, but it was a serious break. “
The director of music at St Andrew’s College, who also composes educational resources for fellow teachers, joins a long list of Cantabrians injured while walking, carrying or avoiding dogs.
Figures released by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) show that there were 2,957 new compensation claims made in 2020, down slightly from the 3,025 recorded in 2019. There were 3,274 active claims in Canterbury in 2020, including 317 carried over from previous years.
The cost of these claims was nearly $ 3.1 million, while nationwide the repair bill was estimated at $ 20,877,059. In 2019, it was $ 17,421,369.
Claims data covers all claims involving a dog, including people who trip, sprain themselves while lifting dogs, and have their heads hit in the face.
Ferguson said the dog continued to act aggressively towards him while in shock before he managed to get back on the path, at which point the owner held the collie back.
“He kept coming towards me, growling, when I was on the ground,” he said.
Despite the signage warning, all dogs had to be on a leash in the area, the collie was not tethered.
“It was around seven in the morning, the guy (the owner) wasn’t expecting anyone else to be on the track at that time, he said all right. way, ”Ferguson said.
The owner apologized and returned to take Ferguson to where he resided in Church Bay, after dropping the collie off at his home.
Ferguson was initially treated with 24-hour surgery from Pegasus Health, but was referred to Christchurch Hospital to get the break set.
He estimated he spent $ 600 on his treatment, which included a statutory holiday supplement and a supplement for a waterproof cast.
CCA has footed the bill for thousands more to cover necessities such as x-rays, scans and a contribution to physiotherapy.
Ferguson was too distracted to get details from the owner after the incident, but he was identified.
“We weren’t going to complain. What’s the point?” he said.
Fortunately, the incident happened during the school holidays, although he had to wear a cast during the first few weeks of the opening term at St Andrew’s College. Not ideal for a piano and double bass player.
“The resources that I would usually have written until January, I haven’t been able to write them, so I’m also spending tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.
“January-February was a real pain because of it all.”
Canterbury District Health Board data was not entered in a way that could easily identify dog-related injuries, although a spokesperson said it was a ‘very small’ component of the monthly emergency department workload.
However, Hayden Thom of Motus Lincoln Physiotherapy is familiar with the potential pitfalls of visiting a dog park.
“It’s surprising how many knee injuries we suffer from a chaotic dog encountering them,” he said.
“It’s often their dog that walks by and smashes in one knee. It actually causes quite a bit of damage.
“It’s a little more common than you probably think. They stand out in unusual ways.”
Thom, who has a placid cocker spaniel, said the knee injuries could take several months to heal.
“Often there is ligament damage and extensive damage to the outer layer of the knee bone. It took one lady almost six months until she was 100% right.