The lifeboat was called out at 13:40, sea conditions were calm with a light easterly breeze, good visibility and just past low water.
Dave Hicks the Helmsman in charge of New Brighton's Atlantic 85 lifeboat Charles Dibdin takes up the story 'We reached the area where the dog was reported fairly quickly and spotted it wading along the revetment wall. The underwater wall, designed to stabilise the channel, is constructed of chunks of limestone, has slopping sides and is a very dangerous area for craft when the water is shallow, as today. Crewman Stuart Ward went over the side and swam to the wall, got on it, then slowly approached the dog, 'Rocky', which was growling and showing its fangs to him. From getting onto the revetment wall to finally getting a rope onto him it took Stuart quite a time. He had to gradually approach him, all the time trying to gain his confidence. On the lifeboat any loss of concentration operating in such shallow water and over jagged rocks could have been very costly.'
He continued 'Once having 'Rocky' on tow Stuart swam out to the lifeboat and with difficulty we managed to get Rocky on board where we wrapped him up in our substantial ambulance blanket. He was exhausted, shivering and had taken on water. We gave him fresh water and the fight finally left him when he realised we were trying to help. We took him to Crosby shore to waiting Coastguards and they took the weak and tired dog back to the dry beach and his owner at about 14:40, we hope he recovers from his ordeal.'
I understand that while this was happening the Coastguard had contacted the local Altcar Rifle Range and asked them to cease fire for a while during the rescue.
The lifeboat returned to base for thorough wash down, disinfection of all the kit and re-fuelling.
Ian Thornton, Deputy Launch Authority at New Brighton lifeboat station commented after the rescue ' This year we have had a spate of dog rescues and each one has been challenging to our crews for different reasons. This is the first one that we have had to deal with an aggressive dog and it was handled by Stuart Ward and the crew extremely well. These situations are particularly volatile and the outcome unpredictable. as well as putting the crew members at risk there was considerable danger to the lifeboat from the location and the courage, dedication and training of the crew made all the difference.'
He concluded ' Again we must stress that in circumstances where animals end up in the water the human should not attempt to follow as they are more likely to end up the casualty and compund an already difficult situation'
Notes to Editors
Main photograph - L to R crew Dave Davies, crew Matt Fossett, Tractor Driver Cmdr Graham Lowe, Helmsman Dave Hicks, crew Stuart Ward
Secondary photo - Lifeboat finds Rocky
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