Gertie the Jack Russell was rescued from the appropriately-named Cats and Dogs Beach in Tyne and Wear. The little dog got into difficulty when she chased a flock of birds into the sea and became stranded on a rock.
RNLI lifeguard Joe Wilson was patrolling the area and waded out to her. The dog was becoming submerged up to her chest and was too scared to swim. Joe managed to scoop her into his arms and brought her back to the shore.
Joe said: ‘Gertie had raced into the sea and had become so distracted by chasing birds that she got caught out by the tide. She was stressed and shaking when I reached her but seemed very happy to see me.’
Meanwhile, a dog cut off by the tide on Poppit Sands in Pembrokeshire was paddled to safety on a rescue board by an RNLI lifeguard.The seven-year-old Staffie dog was separated from its owner by the fast-flowing tidal movements of the river at one end of the north Pembrokeshire beach.
RNLI lifeguard Sam Purnell paddled over to the stranded dog, who could not swim, and brought it back across the 50m stretch of water on a rescue board to be reunited with its grateful owner.
An RNLI lifeboat crew were among several rescue boats called to aid a Labrador called Luna who fell into the Thames. Luna’s owner was threatening to jump in after her but luckily the dog was saved.
Dog walkers in difficulty prompted the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews to launch 373 times across the UK and Republic of Ireland between 2012 and 2014. A total of 260 dog walkers were rescued and 13 people’s lives were saved.
Sadly, these incidents can sometimes end in tragedy. Jo Wardle’s fiancée Alex Hardy drowned at Hendon beach in Sunderland last September, after slipping and being washed into the sea.
Jo explains: ‘Alex and I were walking the dogs along the beach – we used to go there all the time, it was just a normal day. Alex’s dog went down a slipway into the sea but started to struggle. Alex followed, wanting to help, but slipped and banged his head and was then washed out to sea himself. I rushed in, to try and reach him, but the water was just so powerful.
‘A huge search took place, but he was gone – at just 32 years old. It was such a massive shock, how a simple walk at the coast can suddenly turn into tragedy. I am still totally devastated. I respect the sea and coastline more now than ever. I’d urge anyone heading to the coast this summer to be really careful – even if you’re not planning to go into the water, you could still find yourself in danger.’
Jo has told her story as part of the RNLI's Respect the Water campaign, which is the charity’s national drowning prevention programme.
Chris Adams, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager, says: ‘Most people heading for a stroll or run along the coastline probably wouldn’t consider a drowning prevention campaign like this relevant to them as they have no plans at all to enter the water. We’re warning people that if they’re going near the water, whatever their activity, they could be at risk and they need to take care. Unexpected dangers like slippery rocks, sudden waves or unstable ground can catch anyone out.’
Earlier this year, the RNLI also launched a pilot campaign in Portsmouth to encourage dog walkers to keep safe when taking a stroll with their pets at the coast.
Keith Colwell, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager, said: ‘Taking your dog for a walk by the sea is a wonderful way to spend time rain or shine, but despite seeming a relatively risk-free activity the RNLI gets a lot of emergency calls to dog walkers in difficulty. Our new safety campaign aims to encourage people to take a few simple steps to ensure they and their dogs stay safe.
‘This includes making sure your dog is kept on a lead near a cliff edge and if your pet does go over, don’t climb down to them. Instead call the Coastguard. And if you’re dog gets stuck in the mud, don’t wade in after it. You’ll likely get stuck and could easily put yourself in danger if the tide starts rising around you.’
Advice for dog-owners
• Always keep your dog on a lead when walking close to cliff edges or rivers. If they fall, do not go after them. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
• Don’t paddle after your doggy - if your dog swims out too far, do not go after it. Move to a place they can get to safely and call them. Most will get back by themselves. If you are worried call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
• Don’t be a stick in the mud - if your dog gets stuck in mud, don’t go in after it. Move to a place they can get to safely and call them. Most can get out by themselves. If you are worried, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Notes to Editors
Fore more information contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789/ email@example.com