Equine Health Update EHU Vol 20 Issue 02 - Page 9

All Creatures Great and Small... Equine vets know that injuries are fairly common for anyone working around horses. Most have suffered bumps, bruises and stepped-on toes as routine and ‘all part of a day’s work’. Equine vets also know that they may expect to sustain between seven and eight work- related injuries that impede them from practicing, during a 30-year working life; with bruising, fractures and lacerations to the leg or the head being the most common injuries caused by a hind limb kick, a forelimb chopping out or being crushed by the horse and in a quarter of these cases hospitalisation is required. These statistics have been reported by the BEVA’s Equine Vet survey (July 201 6) and although only equine vets were surveyed, these statistics and values are probably very similar for large animal vets. However one of the injuries not really considered in this equine survey, are the bite wounds that equine/large animal vets sustain – and these are not from their large patients but rather from the many dogs who roam the farms, plots and stable yards that are visited. This simple fact was highlighted rather dramatically a few weeks ago when an experienced horse vet, Dr Rissa Parker, went on a routine farm call to a yard that she had attended to many times. She knew the dogs well - having even seen the one growing from a puppy into a well -honed protector of the property. When she opened the gate to drive into the yard, the pack of dogs rushed and attacked her. Unable to escape, Rissa was knocked to the ground where the dogs viciously mauled and seriously injured her. The owner finally rescued the bleeding and torn vet, who was immedi- ately admitted for emergency re-constructive surgery and skin grafts in an attempt to repair the damage wrought by the aggressive dogs. A random attack on an equine vet? Unfortunately not, as the article ‘Bite wound infections’ by Green & Goldstein (August 2016) reported that 65% of the major animal related injuries vets obtain 34% of these will be animal bite related. It is further noted that the bite wounds al- though frequently obtained from a patient being treat- ed; there are often reports that the bites are from the resident, non –patient dogs on the properties being visited by the vet. Many different breeds have been implicated in the attacks (Green & Godstein) with the following breeds well represented: Chow, Husky, German Shephard , Rottweiler and Pitbulls. Living in South Africa on a farm or plot requires mul- tiple security defences in order to protect one’s self, the livestock and the large areas. Violence and crime are reported frequently from the various clients in the farm areas and often dogs are the first line of defence used by many owners to deter unwanted visitors as they are fierce, territorial protectors who take their guarding jobs seriously. Many a vet has arrived at a farm call and has had to run the gauntlet of these dogs rushing the vehicle, biting at the tyres and jumping against the car windows with frantic barking and di- • Volume 20 Issue 2 | July 2018 • 9