German Shepherd bites hand

Dog groomer bitten – Now fighting for her life.

Can you imagine how your business would cope if you were absent for months on end?  Dog groomer bitten

No I’m not talking Covid, though that’s bad enough.  But…what if you were injured?

Grooming is a dangerous occupation.  It’s hard on your body, it can be mentally exhausting when dealing with difficult dogs and clients.  And yet we often find ourselves saying “yes” to things when we should be saying “NO.”  And there are many hidden dangers which we need to be aware of.  

We know that dog bites can be horrific;  some are so damaging to require stitches, antibiotics and perhaps even plastic surgery. 

However, I know a groomer who was bitten recently. This bite resulted in a small puncture wound which is causing her to fight for her life. 

She wasn’t mauled by a large pack of vicious dogs.  She was bitten by a NICE dog.  It was a flukey, freak thing that never should have happened.

This particular accident happened while breaking up a dog fight.  It was a lightning-fast spat between two dogs who just suddenly “went at it”.  Instinctively, she just pulled them apart. One managed to catch her arm and puncture her wrist.  It seemed to be a fairly minor injury, a little TCP and a bandage and jobs a good-en.  

She kept her arm clean and monitored for swelling, bruising and infection.  The infection started to spread so a two night hospital stay with antibiotics was required. dog groomer bitten

Fast forward a few weeks later, she developed what looked like an abscess on her hip. The lump grew larger, and angrier.  After more doctor appointments and further antibiotics, she became very unwell. The lump grew its own rash and at this point, the groomer was admitted in to hospital for investigation.

The lump was poked, prodded and consultants were all mystified. She was discharged and then readmitted days later with a high temperature and breathlessness. 

Was it a bug bite? Cellulitis? Covid?

Covid swabs were done and all came back negative. Chest X-rays, MRIs CT Scans and bloods all came back clear of anything sinister. She was discharged yet again…  

Eventually her GP sent her off to a different hospital to see  a dermatologist, who fortunately was suspicious about the lump. Which was now covering a large area of hip and back. They ordered up new tests. 

Meanwhile it had been two months since the initial dog bite. It was two months of constantly swinging between hospital stays and the odd night at home. But never seeing family or friends, even when Covid restrictions were lifting. 

She literally felt herself dying in a hospital bed and feeling very hopeless with no diagnosis. dog groomer bitten

There was pain, fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness, a growing rash, and this ever constant fever.

Through the diligence of her consultants they eventually worked out that she had developed an auto-immune disorder called Microscopic Polyangitis which is a form of Vasculitis. 

It was obtained during that dog bite that looked like “nothing.” Her skin,  lungs, kidneys and pancreas are badly affected.  She begins Chemotherapy as I write this, which will be the treatment she needs to put this disease in to remission, but which will never be cured.   

She has months of rehabilitation ahead. 

There are months of isolation during this time of immune-suppression that she will have to endure. It will forever be hanging over her, as stress is just one of the triggers which can bring it back on.

This condition is rare, but it’s something that was caused by a dog bite.  Dogs do bite, even nice ones.  Which is why it’s so important to risk assess every dog, every situation, every practice within the control of your day. 

It’s not just doing the assessment, but also implementing it. It doesn’t always go to plan, but it’s so important to minimise those risks before they happen.  It may mean keeping dogs separated, using safety straps and loops, refusing aggressive dogs.  dog groomer bitten

Risk assessment isn’t just about the safety of the animals in our care – as important as that is – it’s also about keeping ourselves safe.  Before dismissing risk assessing and safety measures, consider: Could YOUR business survive 2 months of hospital time while you’re diagnosed and treated and many years beyond to rehabilitate?

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