Resolution: Ditch the Retractable

/ Published in The NEW Issue, Written by Connie Cannaday of the London Sanctuary

May 18, 2019, is a day that will be marked in my mind forever. Very early that morning, I got a call that no rescuer or pet owner would ever want to receive—a puppy under our care was found deceased on the side of the road. She’d gone missing from a sleepover with a potential adopter not 24 hours prior, and we’d been looking for her until late in the night. There’d been not so much as a sighting of this sweet girl since the first hour she disappeared. I was absolutely crushed. I’d certainly hoped to be bringing her back with us to The London Sanctuary that day, just not in this way. My husband and I went to Jacksonville to retrieve her little body.

In rescue you experience quite a bit of loss, but this was quite devastating. She was a beautiful, healthy, 5-month-old puppy who’d left on an adoption trial one Saturday, and a week later, when we should have been finalizing her adoption, we were picking her up to take to the vet for cremation. Cassandra was born in my home and lived with us for over five months. Now she was gone forever, and the reason was frustratingly simple—a leash that failed.

A brand new retractable leash that failed. I’m sure many families have used these without issue, but this time, this one failed. I didn’t like these leashes prior to this happening, but I didn’t do enough to educate the potential adopters, or this wouldn’t have happened. I want to be very careful in how I say this, because under no circumstances do I want the family to feel any more guilt than they already do. If you aren’t entrenched in animal welfare, the dangers are not common knowledge—many people still use retractables. And, for whatever reason, they are still sold in stores. I’ve even used them before I knew better. But I’ve made it my mission to help educate people about the dangers—to both humans and dogs—that can happen as a result of using these leashes.

Sweet Cassandra

Cuts, burns, or amputations of human fingers are very common dangers. Yes, I said common, and I said amputations. There’s even warning label on most of these about that very thing. Additionally, innocent bystanders can also become injured if the dog suddenly sees something and gets the leash entangled with a person, which can happen easily when a dog extends and you don’t have control—retractable leashes give you very little control, despite what you might think.

Some of the dangers to your dog can include: Injuries to legs (entanglement), injuries to backs and necks similar to whiplash when the human has to react quickly to a dog that has become hard to control. Dogs have been hit by cars after extending the leash too far. In Cassandra’s case, the leash fully extended and snapped, even though it was rated for her small size. Much of the problem is the lack of control these leashed offer—trainers do not recommend them for this very reason—the lack of control over your dog is just not safe.

To honor Cassandra, The London Sanctuary has rolled out a program to provide community members with durable regular leashes in exchange for their retractable ones. For this, we will have partnered with Max and Neo, who has donated the first batch, as well Brook from Troop 451 who experienced her own injury from one of these leashes.

We’re making this resolution easy on you! Stop by any of the exchange locations and let’s give your pup a new leash on life for 2020! •

Exchange your retractable leash for free at the following locations:

Jax Biker Gear
1301-4 Monument Road (44.36 mi)
Jacksonville, 32225

Atlantic beach
American Well & Irrigation, Inc.
1651 Mayport Rd
Atlantic Beach, 32233

All Paws Pet Boarding and Day Care
8356 US Highway 301
Bryceville, 32009

Jax Beach
Beach Bark
2185 3rd Street South
Jacksonville Beach, 32250

Julington Creek/Fruit Cove
Jen Kespohl, Round Table Realty
1637 Race Track Road
Jacksonville, 32259

Central Bark Jacksonville
5614 San Jose Boulevard
Jacksonville, 32207

Homemade Hounds Bed & Biscuit
3450 County Rd 220
Middleburg, 32068

Accu-Air Cooling Services
8544 Alicanta Ave.
Jacksonville, 32244

Star Nails and Hair
4819 San Juan Avenue
Jacksonville, 32210

Would your business like to be a leash exchange location?
Please contact The London Sanctuary!



8 thoughts on “Resolution: Ditch the Retractable

  1. I cannot tell you how much I hate these leashes. As a veterinarian I have seen countless accidents and complete misuse of the damned things; they were NEVER intended for daily use but AS A TRAINING TOOL ONLY, but you cannot reason with idiots. One of my biggest complaints is how owners feed out these leashes so dogs can trip you, jump on people, and even attack other dogs. When I see one, I immediately know the owner is clueless about safety and intent, and the poor dog and everyone around them will pay for it.

    1. Pat, as a veterinarian I hope your first inclination is to educate an owner rather than immediately judge them as clueless so that perhaps they can make a more informed decision about the care and safety of their pet.

    2. You are right, you can’t reason with an idiot. So there is probably no point and reminding you that you are mad at a leash for the way people use the leash.

  2. I am truly befuddled by this article. I have used hundreds of retractable leashes in the course of 2 decades as a pet sitter. Now out of the blue I read an article listing the many “dangers” of these leashes, a drive to trade them in and comments with name calling and insulting people who use these leashes. I find them to be convenient and easy to use. I’ve never met anyone who has had difficulty with them. It is bizarre to me to see this hatred towards a simple tool. Any consumer product can have one defective unit. Any consumer product can be misused. Any individual can have a moment of carelessness. Cars have been manufactured with deadly defects, scizzors have cost people an eye, household cleaning products have poisoned people but no one has suggested they be banned. I look forward to another 2 decades of using these safe and convenient leashes.

  3. My vet has a warning sign in the office. It shows dogs and people hurt, maimed, and one person strangled. I have never liked them. Beware and share

  4. I unfortunately know someone who lost their beloved pet as a result of using these types of leashes. They were walking off of a bridal trail and one of the dogs ran out into the road. There was not enough time to stop the leash from extending and tragically his dog was hit by a passing car. Since that day over ten years ago I have tried to express my opinion to anyone who would listen. These leashes are dangerous for both pets and people and I am so thankful to have read this article today and thank you for the work you and everyone included are doing!

  5. All,
    As an owner of a service dog who is fully trained but needs the longer length these leashes offer, I just want to provide some additional education. I would not use this leash with an untrained animal. However, there are those of us who have no alternative. When my service do is completely off leash he is often stopped and petted. The longer leash actually helps him do his job and obviously stay connected to me in a way that reduces interference.
    Thanks for considering another perspective.

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