Animal-related injuries up

Here to help . . . Dunedin Hospital emergency medicine specialist Dr Sierra Beck has treated many patients injured by a range of animals. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

If you’ve fallen over Rover or had a puss scratch your mush, you’re not alone.

Accident Compensation Corporation data reveals the top six animals most likely to be involved in claims relating to the injury of an Otago person, which have hit a five-year high.

More than 1700 claims were made by people in Otago for animal-related injuries last year.

The animals involved in the claims last year – in order of prevalence – were dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep and deer.

Dunedin Hospital emergency medicine specialist Dr Sierra Beck said she had been working as a doctor in the Dunedin Hospital emergency department for about 18 months.

Before that she worked in an emergency department in Atlanta, United States, for six years.

Severe dog bites requiring hospitalisation were “quite a bit higher” in the United States than in New Zealand

However, dogs featured the most in the animal-related injuries she treated in Dunedin.

The most common injury she treated was dog bites.

But some people were injured by tripping over a dog.

Sometimes a dog inflicted multiple injuries in one incident.

“Some people get bitten and then trip over their dog.”

The patients were usually bitten by a dog they knew, Dr Beck said.

Children bitten by dogs usually sustained more serious injuries than an adult wounded the same way.

A toddler was prone to the more serious injuries because they were usually bitten on their head or neck, due to their height.

Adults were more commonly bitten on their arms or legs.

The most common cat-related injury was a bite or scratch becoming infected, she said.

The most common horse-related injury was a head or neck injury after a rider had fallen off, she said.

Horses also injured people by kicking them and inflicting “blunt force trauma”.

Many injuries involving livestock occurred in a workplace, such as a person being injured when giving an animal an injection or treating its wound, she said.

“Their behaviour can be unpredictable.”

The claims for animal-related injuries in Otago last year cost ACC nearly $1.8million.