RNLI urges dog walkers to be careful on coastlines

The RNLI is asking dog owners when enjoying the coast and inland waters to consider the dangers that may not be immediately noticeable. In 2015 the RNLI launched 77 times to incidents involving dogs and many of them ended up with the owners also getting into difficulty themselves.

Queensferry RNLI volunteer assisting a dog to safety

Queensferry RNLI volunteer assisting a dog to safety. Photo: RNLI

Provisional statistics for 2016 show no let up in these figures as of the start of August lifeboats had launched 58 times to similar incidents.

Some stats for 2015:

• The RNLI launched 100 times to incidents involving animals of which 77 involved dogs.
• More than half (52%) of people who died at the coast did not even intend to get wet.
• Coastal walking and running accounted for over one-fifth (21%) of last year’s coastal deaths.

On August 1 Portsmouth inshore lifeboat launched to reports of a dog stranded on a mud bank with a fast incoming tide. The tiny terrier was lucky to be spotted by two walkers who reported it to the local marina and in turn called the coastguard to report the incident. Once the lifeboat arrived an RNLI volunteer waded through the mud to pick up the exhausted and freighted dog.

In April a dog owner dialled 999 after their dog had fallen from cliffs into the sea off Western Super Mare. The volunteers found the dog had managed to get to a rocky outcrop that was inaccessible by land. The crews carefully manoeuvred the lifeboat around the sharp rocks and took the dog, with a few scratches on-board back to shore.

Guy Addington, Community Incident Reduction Manager, said ‘Not all callouts to dogs end up with such positive results. It’s always a sad time when an owner loses their dog. We will often launch to the assistance of animals as sometimes a tragic experience has shown that dog owners will take a huge risk to rescue their pets or livestock, in particular dogs.’

The RNLI has suggested a few simple steps that dog owners to follow to help reduce these types of incidents:
– If your dog swims out too far, don’t go after them. Move to a place they can get to safely and call them. Most will get back by themselves.
– Always keep a dog on a lead when walking close to cliff edges. If they fall do not go in after them.
– If your dog gets stuck in mud, don’t go in after them. 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’

The RNLI is in its third year of its National ‘Respect the Water’ campaign which aims to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024. Around 190 people lose their lives around British and Irish waters each year. RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards save hundreds of lives but, sadly, not everyone can be saved.

For more information on the campaign please visit www.respectthewater.com

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me ann@coastmonkey.ie or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22