A man is warning dog owners to be vigilant after his pet swallowed a fishing hook whilst walking on a beach.
Owner Aidan McCloskey became worried for his three-year-old Golden Retriever ‘Barney’ when his wife spotted him eating a fishing line with hooks attached during their daily walk at Ballycastle Beach.
Barney was taken to a vet where it was confirmed a large fish hook had become lodged in his stomach.
Mr McCloskey said an “irresponsible fisherman” could have cost Barney his life. He believes the hook was not washed up on to the beach but left behind following a fishing competition.
He added: “My wife Tracey and I were taking Barney for a walk like we do most evenings along the beach when we spotted him eating something. My wife shouted at him to stop and when we looked down, we realised it was discarded fishing line with hooks and bait attached.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was down on my hands and knees trying to take the wire and hooks out of his mouth.
“He started to bleed from the mouth. We got the line out and he seemed okay and was playing around but we didn’t know if he had swallowed something or not.
“The next morning we took him straight to the vets at Knockanboy in Dervock and after an X-ray, they could see a large hook in his stomach and had to operate straight away.”
The surgery lasted around two hours and Barney was kept in the vets for two days.
Mr McCloskey added: “Thankfully he’s a young dog and he seems to be past the worst of it. People don’t realise the damage they can do with something like this, it could have easily been a child.
“It was really traumatic for me, my wife and our children who were all in tears. Thankfully everything has worked out okay, but this must act as a warning to fishermen to be much more careful and take home all of their gear”
Councillor Cara McShane said: “We’re lucky in this instance that the dog owner acted swiftly and was able to get immediate treatment to save the dog.
“This incident has highlighted the very real concerns for all users of the beach at Ballycastle. These dangers are out there and I would appeal to anyone using the beach and fishermen, in particular, to ensure not to leave anything behind and please dispose of any unwanted equipment including fishing line and hooks responsibly.
“The beach is a public space and should be enjoyed by everyone particularly at this time of the year with lots of families and young children.”
The RSPCA said it was a “distressing and shocking situation” and urged those who enjoy fishing to be “extra cautious”.
It added: “Most anglers are very responsible, but it only takes one careless person to endanger the life of an animal.”