Club tackles foul play
Dog owners who walk their pets on rugby club pitches have been told to clean up after them or face being banned from the area.
A junior player with Southwell Rugby Club spent two days in hospital after a cut on his leg became infected.
The boy had cellulitis, an infection that can be caused by contact with dog faeces or bacteria in soil.
He was treated with antibiotics via a drip at the QMC, Nottingham.
The captain of the rugby club’s second team, Dr Nigel McHale, also helps coach the junior teams. He works in the paediatric emergency department at the QMC.
Dr McHale said they could not be sure whether the boy had contracted the infection from dog faeces or from another source.
Dr McHale said: “I spoke to the boy’s mother and she said when he came home from practice he had the smell of dog faeces on him.
“She was annoyed about it but thought it was just one of those things.
“That weekend he began complaining that a wound on his left knee was itchy and sore.
“When she looked at it it was red and angry so she rang NHS Direct who told her it was probably the beginning of some kind of infection and suggested she take him to QMC.
“The boy was never going to be seriously ill because his mum saw the signs and got him to hospital.”
If cellulitis is left untreated it can develop into septicemia (blood poisoning) that can be fatal.
Other infections that can be contracted from dog faeces include toxocariasis, a form of roundworm, that can cause blindness, and tetanus that causes muscle spasms and contractions as toxins are realised into the body by bacteria.
The rugby club said it may ban dog walkers from using the two pitches on Park Lane, Southwell, if owners did not start cleaning up after their animals.
Players check the pitches and remove as much dog faeces as they can but don’t always find it all.
One of the pitches is owned by the club and the other is leased from Nottinghamshire County Council.
The club chairman, Mr Phil Gardener, said that the pitches were private property.
“Common sense suggests you don’t let the dog run all over the pitch,” he said.
“We don’t mind them walking them around the edges and there is plenty of room there for the dogs.
“We want people to think about the children who run round on the pitches and the problems this can cause them.
“We have a thriving junior section with more than 150 members and we have a team in every age group from five years old to 17 so there are a lot of young children up there.”
The pitches are also being used by the Minster School.
Mr Gardener said banning dog walkers was a last resort.
“Some of our members are dog owners and people who come to watch us play often bring their dogs so we don’t want to ban them but if dog owners keep letting their dogs foul on the pitches we will have to,” he said.