In 2007 there were 16,564 hospital-treated injuries associated with leashes, according to Consumer Union’s analysis of statistics collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those, about 10.5 percent involved children 10 and younger; 23.5 percent involved injuries to the finger. The CPSC’s data does not parse the leashes into types but it’s likely that the amputations were caused by retractable leashes.
The most common injuries reported were burns and cuts, usually sustained when the cord came in contact with skin as it rapidly paid out from the handle of a leash. Others occurred when the cord got wrapped around part of the owner or the dog.
The Consumer Product Safety Council (CPSC) has announced only one recall of retractable leashes in recent years. Last September 223,000�@”Slydog” brand retractable leashes were recalled after several complaints were received by the agency about the metal clip breaking and flying off.
The following story is a reminder of how dangerous some of these dog leashes are.
Heather Todd didn’t bring a leash with her the day she took her pooch Penny to a pond near Boston in 2005. So she borrowed a retractable dog leash to help keep her Labrador retriever in check.�@But it didn’t. The 90-pound dog suddenly took off running and dragged Todd across the sand.
When she came to a stop and recovered her wits, she spotted something lying on the sand. With horror, she realized it was a human index finger; with greater horror, she realized it was her own. The cord of the retractable leash had looped around her finger and pulled taut when Penny bolted.
“It just cut it off like a sharp knife,” Todd says.
She wrapped her hand in a towel, grabbed the finger, and headed to the hospital, but doctors were unable to reattach it. Todd, who’s now in nursing school, says there are times when her missing finger causes problems. “I get by. You just adjust,” she says.
Todd’s story may sound like a freak accident, but retractable leashes are responsible for a surprising number of injuries each year, including amputations. Todd sued the maker of the leash as well as the distributor, as have others who have been injured by retractable leashes. Todd told us that the company settled her case for an undisclosed amount.