Boy suffers garrotting injury from dog lead

Six-year-old cycled into lead extended across road

by Mark Appleton   October 19, 2010  

Dog lead neck injury.jpg

Almost every one of us will have our own tale to illustrate the fact that unleashed dogs and moving bikes don’t mix.

But with the advent of extendable leads, even a dog that is ostensibly under control can be a danger to cyclists as a horrific incident involving a boy in Lancashire has demonstrated.

The child, 6-year-old Isaac Hargreaves from Morecambe, was riding close to his home in a cul-de-sac when he pedalled into the lead which was extended to such an extent that the dog was on one side of the road and the owner on the other.

Isaac was caught by the lead at upper chest height, causing a severe friction burn to his shoulder and neck before he fell off the bike, bruising his back

Lancaster City Council, which also covers the Morecambe area, has released a picture of the neck injury to illustrate the dangers of extendable leads. The boy’s father, Darren, also talked to them about the incident which happened during the summer.

"I have always regarded our small, quiet cul-de-sac to be a safe place for children to play," he said "Isaac loves to ride circuits of the road with his brother which is why I thought it was unusual to hear him crying that day. I ran out to find him walking towards me from where the incident had occurred, just metres from my house, with terrible burn marks on his chest and neck.

"Isaac had cycled round a bend in the road and straight into an extendable dog lead. The owner of the dog was on one side of the road and the dog was on the other when the accident happened. The lead appeared to have caught Isaac's shoulder and moved up to his neck as he fell backwards.

"If he hadn’t been wearing his helmet which had cracked on impact, his injuries could have been far worse. Thankfully, Isaac has fully recovered but as a parent, it saddens me to think my beautiful little boy will have to bear the physical scars for the rest of his life."

Council dog warden, Alison McGowan said: “This is not the first time we have witnessed rope type burns as a result of someone using this type of lead and as a service, we would never recommend people use them on the highway when dogs need to be kept under close control.”

Perhaps you've had your own accident or near-miss involving this type of lead, if so let us know below.
 

15 user comments

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Poor lad.

I knew this would happen - it was just a matter of when, not if Sad

Thankfully I haven't had any dog lead-related incidents yet but before now I've had to brake when I come upon ignorant dog walkers, usually on cyclepaths.

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posted by Simon E [1905 posts]
19th October 2010 - 11:55

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This is a tragic accident, and I hope the child involved recovers quickly and gets back on his bike soon!

With regard to comment above though, sounds a bit like some of those comments you get from some motorists who think the road belongs to them....
"Thankfully I haven't had any cycle-related incidents yet but before now I've had to brake when I come upon ignorant cyclists, usually on roads."

On cycle paths it is usually a good idea to brake for any potential hazard, whether it be other cyclists, pedestrians, or even ignorant dog walkers.

posted by baldcyclist [6 posts]
19th October 2010 - 13:13

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I don't think Simon E is the kind that thinks the cyclepath belongs to him, baldcyclist, but yes, agreed, it's always a good idea to play safe and give yourself time and space to react to other people/animals' movements.

Anyway, answering my own appeal, funnily enough, I had cause to consider the extendable leads issue myself at the weekend. Bombing along my usual training route on narrow country lanes I came across a couple with two dogs, berry-picking at the side of the road. Pulled out to give them and dogs enough room but only as I passed them could I see that both dogs were on leads that were fully extended, with enough slack to easily get to me even if I was tucked right into the opposite gutter.

In these circumstances an extendable lead is probably worse than no lead at all: if the pooch runs to your offside, unless you can brake in time you will inevitably get snagged, at what height depends, obviously, on your and the dog's respective heights.

posted by Mark Appleton [554 posts]
19th October 2010 - 15:03

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"The owner of the dog was on one side of the road and the dog was on the other." which is pretty bloody lazy, not to mention that it is madness to let your dog get that far away from you on a road, quiet or not.

I have to agree with Simon - that using these near cycle paths can be very dangerous indeed. It's not about who owns the path, it's about common courtesy and common sense: if you can't fully control your dog, what makes it a good idea to let the dog get so far away when there's the possibility of others in the area, whether on bicycle or foot?

(And on the 'ownership' subject anyway: you wouldn't let the dog walk down the road on a long lead, why would it be Ok on the cycle path??)

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posted by timlennon [226 posts]
19th October 2010 - 15:15

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I came across a group of dog walkers who were busy chatting. When they saw me they all took a step to their side of the path, opposite their dogs, instead of moving towards them, effectively blocking the path with their extendable leads Sad

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posted by nilling [11 posts]
19th October 2010 - 16:04

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You have to wonder what would have happened to poor Fido if it had been a Royal Mail van making it's usual attempt to break Mach 1, instead of some poor wean on a bike!

Never mind just showing courtesy to others (which is important of course), that eejit put his dog at serious risk!

posted by mad_scot_rider [536 posts]
19th October 2010 - 16:19

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baldcyclist wrote:
With regard to comment above though, sounds a bit like some of those comments you get from some motorists who think the road belongs to them....
"Thankfully I haven't had any cycle-related incidents yet but before now I've had to brake when I come upon ignorant cyclists, usually on roads."

On cycle paths it is usually a good idea to brake for any potential hazard, whether it be other cyclists, pedestrians, or even ignorant dog walkers.

Well blow me down, I never realised!

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious yet again, of course it's a good idea to prepare yourself for such obstacles. However, why do I have to do this when it's a cycle path as opposed to a separate dog walk path, jogging path, teenagers hanging around path etc etc?

Often the other users of said facility span the full width of the combined pavement and cyclepath, which is unnecessary and inconsiderate. Also, it's not possible to control a dog when it's at the far end of a 5 metre retractable lead. When that lead spans a cyclepath or road then I'd suggest that is dangerously negligent behaviour on the part of the owner.

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posted by Simon E [1905 posts]
19th October 2010 - 16:45

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I agree totally with all of the comment regarding dogs roaming on long leads, dogs should be kept under control at all times!

I guess my sense of humour is a little abstract, but I do still get the feeling from some of the comments here that there is a view that the 'cycle path is mine'. Akin to some motorists view that the road somehow belongs to him. Of course it doesn't, and neither does the cycle path.

Cyclist, motorist, and long lead touting dog walker...

posted by baldcyclist [6 posts]
19th October 2010 - 17:13

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Awful thing to happen to a young cyclist. Lets hope he's back on the bike soon. I had a similar though without incident experience a month or so ago on a semi rural road. Turning a tight downhill left bend I noticed a small dog on the right hand side of the road next to the verge. Thought was a bit strange then before I knew, there was a squeal, I was hit by somthing and I was tangled. The dog owner was walking on the pavement with the dog on the otherside of the road with the lead luckily fairly slack. As I ran over it the dog got pulled, the dog owner let go of the handle which flew into me and I was all tangled in dog lead. Thankfully I wasn't pulled off the bike/didn't kill the dog or injure the walker.

All a bit silly and could be well avoided. Some people are devoid of common sense in life.

posted by JT Racing [3 posts]
19th October 2010 - 17:24

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SimonE wrote:

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious yet again, of course it's a good idea to prepare yourself for such obstacles. However, why do I have to do this when it's a cycle path as opposed to a separate dog walk path, jogging path, teenagers hanging around path etc etc?

I think the term 'cycle path' has come to be used for any off road path that cycles are allowed on.

In reality, I'd suggest very few 'cycle paths' are in fact just for cycling and that most are walking AND cycling paths. Indeed some may also have rights for horse riding, while they must all be usable by disabled people with wheelchairs, powered or otherwise.

Therefore no cyclist should believe that they have right of way or that they can wizz along ignoring others.

All users of traffic free paths should be considerate to all other users. After all, isn't that we want to see on the roads, so why should it be different off them?

As for the extendable dog leads, it isn't just cyclists that are at danger. I've seen pedestrians tripped up by the leads on Swansea sea front.

When cycling or walking on any such path I pay much more attention to dogs that are (or look like they could be) on extendable leads that dogs that have no lead.

The leads are a lazy option for some dog owners. Instead of having to pay attention to their dog or train it sufficiently, they simply hold onto the end of a long rope and ignore the dog completely.

posted by joules1975 [64 posts]
19th October 2010 - 17:58

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so what is the law in regard to keeping dogs under control then - any ideas?

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

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posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
19th October 2010 - 21:40

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joules1975 wrote:
In reality, I'd suggest very few 'cycle paths' are in fact just for cycling and that most are walking AND cycling paths.

A good enough reason to avoid them except on the odd occasion you're out for a slow pootle with the family, when there's plenty of time to avoid the dog mess, garrottes, broken glass, parked cars and goodness knows what else.

On the few cycle paths I use it seems the solid painted demarcation line and bicycle graphics are invisible - it is treated like a broad footpath.

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posted by Simon E [1905 posts]
19th October 2010 - 22:17

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Its a long time ago now, about 25 years, but I was running down a pavement with a dog on one patch of grass and the owner on the other. Only last second did I realise their was a lead between them and I had to do a quick hurdle not to be tripped.

As usual it is the owners who are dangerous not the lead or the dog - though I still take care even now!

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posted by Blackhound [436 posts]
19th October 2010 - 23:08

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The law is that you should have your dog under control at all times, and on the street that means keeping it on a lead - not sure what the rule would be on cycle paths. Not all paths have a demarcation line though - the Bath Bristol path doesn't. It's a shared use path and everyone has to share - which is fair enough really.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
19th October 2010 - 23:14

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Simon E wrote:
joules1975 wrote:
In reality, I'd suggest very few 'cycle paths' are in fact just for cycling and that most are walking AND cycling paths.

A good enough reason to avoid them except on the odd occasion you're out for a slow pootle with the family, when there's plenty of time to avoid the dog mess, garrottes, broken glass, parked cars and goodness knows what else.

On the few cycle paths I use it seems the solid painted demarcation line and bicycle graphics are invisible - it is treated like a broad footpath.

For various reasons demarcation with paint simply doesn't work and is utterly pointless (unless you are a risk averse council who believe, wrongly, that putting a load of white paint down means fewer accidents/less chance of litigation).

Far better to get people used to mixing, and yes, if you want to ride fast on your bike, don't go on a 'cycle path'. The 'cycle paths' are generally designed to allow people to ride/walk without the fear of being hit by cars, and thus not designed to be used as cycle motorways by experience cyclists.

Issues between bikes and pedestrians are every bit the same as issues between bikes and cars. The speed differential means that one is always going to get in the other's way, and maybe do something unexpected or not give the other enough room, resulting in obstruction/delay or a collision. Until everyone gains a bit of patience, respect and consideration, clashes (and crashes) will always happen.

As for glass, dog mess, etc. Get on to your local council. Something will only be done about it if enough people complain!!!

posted by joules1975 [64 posts]
20th October 2010 - 14:11

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