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A dog owner is warning others of the potential dangers of throwing sticks for their dogs after her pooch was impaled by a branch and ended up seriously ill.
Jemma Hammerton, 22, from Willenhall in the West Midlands, was out walking her five-year-old Jack Russell cross called Marley last December when she threw a stick for him to fetch.
But things went horribly wrong after the stick ended up lodged in Marley's throat.
Terrified Jemma initially thought her beloved pet was dead when she approached him and saw him covered in blood with the branch stuck deep in his throat.
She rushed him to the vets where he was treated and given a month-long course of antibiotics and pain medications - but the incident came back to haunt him in February this year and little Marley had to undergo an hour-long surgery to remove pieces of the branch that had broken off and were stuck in his neck.
She said: "We were out on our usual walk when a stick I had thrown dug itself into the mud and was pointing upwards.
"Marley ran to get it but didn't stop in time and the stick got lodged in the back of his mouth.
"I ran over and he was desperately trying to get it out with his paws, and in a panic I pulled it out of his mouth.
"There was blood pouring from his throat and he just became limp and lifeless.
"I actually thought he was dead and that the stick had gone through his neck completely at first.
"I was hysterical, it was like I was losing a child."
Jemma took Marley to Wolverhampton PDSA Pet Hospital where he was given medication and told to come back for check-ups.
Over the coming weeks Marley appeared to be getting back to his old self, but in February, Jemma noticed a small lump on his neck that had started to puss and go black.
So she took him back to the PDSA where he was booked in for investigative surgery which revealed there were still parts of the branch in his throat which needed removing, and within an hour he was back on his feet.
Jemma said: "It was like there was something there trying to push its way out.
"It looked incredibly sore and had started pussing and going black.
"He was acting so out of character, so I knew something wasn't right, so we took him back to PDSA to get it checked."
Now that he's well again, Jemma is speaking out to warn others about he serious damage sticks can do.
She said: "I want to urge other owners not to let their dogs play with sticks while out walking. I learnt the hard way and I don't want anyone else to go through what Marley's been through.
"Marley means the world to me and I am forever grateful to everyone at PDSA who were absolutely brilliant.
"I can't thank them enough for everything they did in keeping Marley with me, I dread to think what would have happened if we didn't have them. They are a God-send."
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