It is with regret that I must report yet another retractable leash sad story. Recently a patient was injured by running to the end of the leash with too much momentum (chasing a squirrel) and received a whiplash type injury affecting all four limbs neurologically.
I am sure many of you have herd my “soap box” lecture about these leashes but PLEASE understand it is only due to safety. Many people purchase because they love their pet and want to give them freedom to run and play. I completely understand but this freedom has caused many injuries to animals and people.
To date, my personal experience has included a dog fatally hit by a car, clients tangled and falling, tangled dogs in a fight-impossible to untangle with bite wounds to my client, as well as many neck injuries that have been correctable BUT totally avoidable on a proper leash.
Below is a list of reasons veterinarians and animal professionals DO NOT recommend the flexi-leash.
Please read below:
REMEMBER: FLEXI RETRACTABLE LEASHES ARE ILLEGAL IN BREVARD COUNTY DUE TO LENGTH OF LEASH AFFECTING SAFETY OF PET AND HUMAN.
10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash
1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26
feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a
situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is
often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make
uninvited contact with other dogs or people.
2. In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by
an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation
if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect —
a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he’s 20
or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.
3. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a
powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes
off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and
whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and
injure the human at the other end.
4. If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or
grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts,
and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off
their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going.
This can result in bruises, “road rash,” broken bones, and worse.
5. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden
jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck
wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.
6. Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them,
which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to “fight
7. The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled
out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.
8. Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are
terrorized by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take
off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object
of the poor dog’s fear is then “chasing” her, and if the leash is
retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can’t
escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to
the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only
of leashes, but also of being walked.
9. Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to
malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or
unspooling at will.
10. Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven’t
been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature,
retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that
pulling extends the lead.
For these reasons and more, I ask that my clients use regular leashes only when visiting the clinic.
Dr. Donna Ragona