The coastguard has been called out to rescue more than 1,000 dogs over the last four years.
Hundreds of dogs get into trouble in and around the water each year, often as a result of going over cliffs, according to official reports supplied to The Overtake by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Most of the dogs “self-rescue” — they’re able to swim to safety or clamber up cliffs — but others need to be picked up by a boat or helicopter.
In one incident in 2016, a three-legged Alsatian spent three days on a cliffside on the Isle of Wight, before he was discovered and picked up with help from the RSPCA.
The same year, a terrier was reported hanging from a cliff in Swanage on the south coast, with rescuers seemingly arriving just in time — as the dog fell, coastguards managed to catch it and reunite it with its owner.
The North East and South West coasts were dog rescue hotspots.
Steve Mann, maritime operations controller, HM Coastguard advises owners to remember that dogs don’t see danger in the same way as humans.
“We are lucky to have some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and as such know that people love to explore it. We wouldn’t want to tell people not to go there with their dogs as it’s a great place to take them. However, all too often as your figures show, we see what happens when it all goes wrong.
It’s so sad when what should have been a wonderful day at the coast ends in the death of a beloved dog
“Please do keep your dog on a lead when walking near cliff tops and keep well back from the edge. Dogs get easily excited and want to race off and explore with no heed for the danger they might be in. It’s so sad when what should have been a wonderful day at the coast ends in the death of a beloved dog.”
While coastguards work hard to save pets who end up in the water, more often than not, it’s to ensure that owners don’t try to rescue their beloved furry family members themselves.
Last year, one man was rescued from a river in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, after going into the water to save his dog. Both were safely returned to the shore by coastguards.
If the worst does happen and your dog goes over the cliff, please don’t try and rescue your animal yourself
Mann says under no circumstances should people go in the water or over a cliff after their dog.
“If the worst does happen and your dog goes over the cliff, please don’t try and rescue your animal yourself. It’s sadly true to say that quite often the owner has ended up worse off than the dog.
“Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard – we’ve got the specialist knowledge of cliff rescue and we’ve also helped many owners to be safely reunited with their animals,” he adds.