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Pet-related injuries? They do happen

About 86,000 people are hurt each year in accidents involving their pets -- usually by tripping over them, a CDC study says. That figure, however, represents only 1% of injuries from falls.

March 27, 2009|Carla Hall

People are always falling for their pets. Apparently, some are falling over them, too.

About 86,000 injuries each year occur when good people go klutzy around their animals and end up in emergency rooms. Most stumble over their cats and dogs. Others get pushed or pulled by a dog on a walk -- or are doing the chasing themselves. Some pet owners are tripped up by food bowls and pet toys.

That said, such mishaps are relatively rare, accounting for only 1% of injuries from falls, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.

Most of the injured were treated and released, according to researchers who looked at emergency room reports for 66 U.S. hospitals from 2001 through 2006.

"I wouldn't say it's common," said Dr. Frederick Carr, medical director of the emergency department at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance. "I see many more people who trip over curbs and speed bumps. I see one or two of those a day."

Carr recalled, however, that when his elderly mother house-sat for him once, "she tripped over the dog and sustained many cuts. She needed some stitches."

The CDC study said the rate of injury was higher for the elderly.

But pet owners proudly said their animals did not contribute to those statistics. Laura Trope, owner of Lakal Jewelry in Brentwood, brings her Dachshund, Jill, to the store every day.

"No one has fallen over her yet -- and she's definitely close to the ground and hard to see," Trope said.

Most cat owners are aware of their felines' risky predilection for weaving around their owners' legs.

"I love it when they cut me off at the pass," said Kathy Riordan, an L.A. Animal Services Commissioner and the owner of multiple cats. "In all the times they've cut me off, I've never fallen. But I have fallen wearing high heels."

Not mentioned in the report were possible injuries sustained by pooches and kitties bearing the brunt of their stumbling owners.

"Back in 1991, I stepped on my cat's paw," Riordan said. "I felt terrible. We had it X-rayed, and he was fine. But for the remaining 16 years of his life, he would lift a paw and I would run over and apologize."

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carla.hall@latimes.com

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