SF SPCA urges pet owners to keep dogs off escalators

Dr. Roger Helmers

Dr. Roger Helmers

The San Francisco SPCA is urging dog owners to avoid letting canine companions walk on escalators, which can cause serious injuries to pets that in some cases require the amputation of a limb.

In the past year, the animal welfare organization has seen an increase in escalator-related injuries to dogs — an average of two or three a month — which include lacerations to a nail, a toe being torn off and a skin injury from fur catching in an escalator, said Dr. Roger Helmers, a veterinarian at the SPCA.

“Sometimes the injuries are minor,” Helmers said. “Occasionally, the whole toe gets torn off, and they already come in [to the pet hospital] with one toe missing.”

Smaller dogs tend to be injured more often than bigger dogs. More than half the cases require at least one surgery that can cost up to $4,000, according to Helmers.

Helmers recalled a particularly alarming instance several months ago in which a small, mixed-breed dog had nearly half its paw torn off by an escalator. That dog required multiple surgeries resulting in the amputation of three of its toes.

To prevent such injuries, the SPCA suggests pet owners carry their dogs on escalators, or use the stairs or an elevator. Additionally, booties can be used to protect dogs' paws. Dog booties can be purchased online or at pet supply stores.

Dog owners are advised to see a veterinarian immediately if their pet is injured. The San Francisco SPCA's Pacific Heights campus is open 24/7 for emergency visits.

To learn more, visit sfspca.org/hospital.

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