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Paris Hilton Hiking with Her Dogs and Possible Leash Risks

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on as Paris Hilton Hiking with Her Dogs and Possible Leash Risks

We normally see Paris Hilton jet-setting around the world to promote her fashion and perfume lines and burgeoning DJ career, but Hilton recently made the time to get out and about in Los Angeles to promote the better health of her dogs.

Hilton was photographed hiking in Los Angeles with her boyfriend River Viiperi and two small dogs appearing to be a Chihuahua and a Toy Manchester Terrier. The UK Daily Mailarticle features photos of the human and canine duos taking a walk through a scenic spot known as the Tree People Center for Community Forestry.

I am pleased to see Hilton taking her dogs for a walk and promoting a higher level of physical fitness, improved body condition score, and overall better quality of life. Yet, seeing Hilton and Viiperi walking the dogs on extendable leads causes me some concerns for the dogs’ health and safety.

I’m definitely not a fan of leashes that permit a dog to move beyond six feet away from his owner, including retractable leads. As compared to a flat fabric or chain-link leash (both non-retractable), the retractable lead reduces an owner’s control of a dog’s mobility. These leads are typically composed of a strong, thin, circular or flat cord of fabric, which can cause severe tissue damage to an undeserving human or animal victim.

Safety First

The Veterinary Information Network (VIN) recently published the article Injuries, behavioral problems linked to retractable leashes recounting the cautionary tale where “a dog on a retractable leash bolted into traffic and was hit by a motorcycle before the owner could retract the cord. It was in severe respiratory distress upon arriving at the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Levittown, Pa. While there were no external wounds, a tear in the dog’s trachea was found and repaired. Dr. Garret Pachtinger, a critical care specialist, was part of a team of emergency personnel who treated the dog. He suspects the dog was hurt more by the yanked leash than the motorcycle collision.”

Although many dog owners rely upon retractable leashes to provide their canine companions a sense of freedom during walks, doing so may actually contribute to health and behavioral issues. One of my own patients suffered the consequences associated with retractable leads, as he walked approximately 20 feet ahead of his owner on a sidewalk in West Hollywood, was abruptly startled, then fell between two parked cars and badly fractured one of his forelimbs. Such an incident likely would not have happened had the dog stayed closer to his owner on a flat lead of 6 feet or less.

Not only are retractable leashes potential hazards for pets, but the human holding the other end of the leash is also at risk for potential trauma. My clients and I have suffered personal injury as a result of irresponsible use of retractable leads by dog owners who neglected to employ adequate control over their crazy canines. One of my clients lost a finger, and I experienced a second degree burn across my arm after our respective limbs became ensnared in the lead.

Los Angeles County has a law prohibiting dogs to “run at large”, which also seemingly applies to retractable leads.

10.32.010 Dogs — Running at large prohibited

No person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of any dog shall cause, permit or allow the same to be or to run at large upon any highway, street, lane, alley, court or other public place, or upon any private property or premises other than those of the person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of such dog, in the unincorporated area of the county of Los Angeles, unless such dog be restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length and is in the charge, care, custody or control of a competent person.

Although I am a advocate of Hilton taking her dogs for physical activity excursions, I would prefer that she more highly prioritizes their safety by not using retractable leads and keeping them within a safer six-feet distance.

What kind of leash do you use?

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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