Ban Metal Jumps Now!

28 Nov 2012Steve Schwarz

There is no reason to use these dangerous jumps anymore! Period. There are just too many opportunities for injury.

One Piece Metal Jump with Metal Jump Cups

Corgi jumping metal jump

What Are the Dangers?

Eye injuries and punctures are the biggest dangers to the dogs. Any dog jumping under full height has the jump cups above the bar as possible eye cutting/puncturing dangers. There are some really old metal jump uprights with an inverted jump cup at the very top of the jump standard (to make it possible to carry the assembled jump by sliding a jump bar all the way to the top) that are also dangerous to dogs jumping at the highest jump height.

The shape of the jump cups on metal jumps pose more dangers than molded plastic cups (jump cups cut from PVC end caps can be just as dangerous as metal jump cups - due to sharp edges). The jump cups are usually made of angle iron welded at a 45 degree angle. Even if the edges are aggressively ground down there is always the bottom 90 degree angle that is pointed.

All it takes is a dog slipping slightly on take off or jumping too close to and hitting the jump upright to have their eye come in contact with one or more protruding jump cups. In addition to numerous eye injuries, dogs are getting cut on the face, and sides when slicing these jump uprights at speed.

The other danger is metal jump uprights connected by a bottom cross bar. This design keeps the upright from fully falling out of the way if the dog knocks into one of the uprights. Then if the dog “splats” the jump the upright doesn’t fall posing a greater risk for impalement. I heard several first hand stories of dogs punctured when landing on these jump uprights.

Nate - Hit Metal Jump - 7 Stitches

Brio - Metal Jump Cut - 21 Stitches

Bliss - Metal Jump Cut

What Should We Use Instead?

At least use standalone PVC jump uprights, no connecting lower bar, with molded soft plastic jump strips without any sharp edges. I use Clip and Go Jump Cup Strips at home and many clubs/training facilities use them around here.

Even better is to use stand alone jump uprights with a single movable/displaceable jump cup that fits into a slot or hole. Then there are no extra jump cups for the dog to come in contact with. These are the types of jumps you typically see at all the big international events. I know Launch The Dog and Premier both make jumps of this type.

In case you are wondering: going to a single jump cup won’t add significantly to height change times at trials. Assuming a 5 courses per ring, 3 jump height changes each, 14 jump bars each course and 10 seconds more per bar (assumes all bars are adjusted by one person) adds about half an hour extra per day. IMO there are plenty more significant time wasters at most trials.

Don't Take My Word For It!

Agility competitor/trainer Daisy Peel recorded a podcast on this very subject. Linda Mecklenburg also added her support for improving jump safety in her blog post.

It Costs Too Much to Replace Them

I Don’t Care. There I said it. I’m old enough and maybe I’m just getting crotchety, but the money argument just doesn’t hold water for me any more. Agility has long stopped being a low cost sport. Training classes, ring rentals, private lessons, seminars, trial fees, gas, vehicle mileage, hotel rooms, food, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, laser therapy are just a few of the costs of this hobby/sport. Add to that rehab costs and our sport is not for the faint of wallet. Meeker’s back injury a couple years ago cost around three thousand dollars in analytics and therapy on top of our “normal” costs of training/competition/massage-chiro.

But what is the cost of a career or life ending injury because a club was too damn cheap to replace their old metal jumps? Is saving a thousand dollars really worth destroying a dog’s life?

Raise the entry fees two dollars per run at each trial until all the jumps are replaced. I’m sure the old steel jumps can be sold as scrap to recoup some of the cost - in Chicago they pay by the pound for steel. Until the jumps are replaced ask members or even entrants to bring their non-metal competition quality jumps to the trials. Around here you could easily fill a dozen rings with PVC jumps if you just asked the participants to bring their backyard jumps.

Conclusion

This is an easy problem to solve. If your club/training facility still uses these jumps please contact them. Be nice - let them know about the dangers. Let them know you want to help them replace their metal jumps. Hopefully they will be convinced that the potential for injury is too great to risk continuing to use those jumps. If not vote with your feet. Yes I know dog agility is a small world and you might not have many/any other options. But if you don’t stand up for your dog’s safety no one else will.

Please get the conversation started and see if you can help make 2013 be the first year where no dog need be permanently injured due to these dangerous metal jumps.

Related Articles: