Mistley rugby player ends up in hospital due to dog poo

A rugby player who ended up in hospital with an infection in his leg from dog poo said the problem needed to be taken more seriously.

Neil Baxter, 44, who plays for Mistley RUFC in Essex, was grazed by another player’s studs. His leg later became hot and started swelling.

Doctors took swabs which showed the infection had come from animal faeces.

“My biggest worry if that this will happen to one of the hundreds of children who play there,” he said.

The father-of-two was playing on the pitches at Furze Hill in Mistley when the incident happened last year.

He has been left with an eight inch (20 cm) scar and has no feeling in his lower leg after the infection destroyed 25% of the muscle in his calf, taking it “right down to the bone”.

“As a club we are now much more aware when we get grazes and we use alcohol gels. We’ve also put in extra dog poo bins around the pitch but we need dog owners to play their part and clear up after their pets.

Charlotte Howell, chair of Mistley parish council, said dog poo was a “growing problem” because of the increase of dogs in the area since the pandemic.

“Selfish people who don’t pick up after their dogs are very much in the minority but we are increasingly finding dog mess on the pitches,” she said.

“Neil ending up in hospital just shows you how serious this problem can be.”

She added: “Furze Hill is a lovely open space, with the two rugby pitches and a football pitch surrounded by beautiful woods, and a car park, so it has become a destination dog walking area.

“We have very clear signage in place but we are appealing to dog owners to do the right thing – either keep dogs off the pitches or clean up diligently.”