Man reveals how dog poo led to his leg having to be amputated
Back in the 1970s, Collin Smith was a promising rugby player. So talented was he, in fact, that many thought he might go on to play professionally once he was old enough. Tragically, though, his hopes of pursuing a career in the sport came crashing down around him when he was just 15 years old... and it was all because of some dog poo.
Now, at the age of 53, Smith is telling his story in order to raise awareness of the dangers of dog faeces, and hopes that his message will encourage dog owners to clean up after their pooches in public.
"I can remember that it was just an ordinary rugby match – though it was a bad, rainy day. It was Tonyrefail Comp against Ferndale Comp, played in Maerdy," Smith said, recalling the fateful match back in 1979.
At some point during the game, Smith - who was 15 at the time - took a hard fall. The impact broke his leg so badly that the bone protruded through his skin.
"I had the compound fracture, and the fall led to my bones entering the mud. In hospital, my leg was set like any other routine fracture, but within 24 hours an infection had set.
"I had emergency surgery and the bottom part of my leg was amputated."
And just like that, the young man's hopes for the future were completely ruined. But it was only a little while later that Smith found out exactly what had caused the rapid infection.
"The toxicology report showed the infection was due to animal faeces, and it was later diagnosed as dog excrement, which had been on the playing field," the former rugby player explained.
"People walked their dogs and there was dog fouling and the consequences were from a very young age I lost my leg.
"Perhaps there was a career in rugby for me but it wasn’t to be."
Obviously it was heartbreaking for Smith to have lost his leg because of someone else's carelessness, but now he's involved in a campaign called "Sort **It Out", which aims to encourage dog walkers to pick up their pet's mess.
"Dog owners should carry poo bags with them – I do as a dog owner and would expect others to," Smith said. "It should be compulsory, and I support the new rules being put in place for this. If dog owners don’t even carry bags when walking their dogs, I think they are totally out of order as members of the community.
"For play areas, normally they are cordoned off anyway, and I think it is right to enforce a ban on dogs within these areas too, where children are playing."
Smith lives in an area where dog owners can be fined if they are seen allowing their dogs to defecate without cleaning it up after, and he hopes that more places will adopt this policy so that others do not have to run the risk of encountering any serious health problems as he did.