Three dogs help save 14 people at sea

Three water rescue dogs have been hailed as heroes after helping rescue fourteen people, eight of whom were children, after a sudden change in weather left them unable to return ashore on their own.

The animals helped to rescue bathers who got into difficulty around 330 feet off the shore of Sperlonga, halfway between Naples and Rome, Italy says CNN.

The group of three families struggled to get back to the shore after their inflatables, dinghies and surf equipment started to capsize in strong wind and waves.

‘The group was about 100 meters from the shore aboard mattresses, tank tops and a surfboard. Due to the sudden swelling of the sea, the bathers were dragged by the current and couldn’t get back to the beach. The waves catapulted out of the inflatables some of them who found themselves, so, in great difficulty and started screaming for help,’ says a statement from the canine team on facebook.

A family member on the beach called for help and captured the attention of three dog units close-by.

The families were bathing off the beach, when the weather changed and waves turned rough. Unable to swim back ashore lifeguards – two- and four-legged alike – were quick to take action, according to Dogs Today.

Labrador Eros, Mya and Mira jumped in the water along with their human colleagues.

“As soon as we got in the water we calmed the people down to keep them from panicking. Then we took ashore the first three, those closest to us,” says one of the lifeguard dog handlers.

“Someone cried ‘help me, I can’t hold on’. We helped them with life bouys and took them all ashore. I can still see this little girl, five or six years old, so determined as she held onto the bouy and let Mya take her and the inflatable mattress she was on back to shore.”

“I am more and more certain that this administration’s decision to improve beachgoers’ safety through the presence of water rescue dogs was the right choice, and this intervention at an especially crowded beach confirms it,” the local mayor, Armando Cusani, says.

According to People it took approximately 15 minutes for the labradors to bring the group safely back to shore.

Life-saving dogs became a part of lifeguarding in Italy after special lifeguard dog training schools first opened in the country three decades ago. Big groups of beachgoers are often too much for a small group of lifeguards to handle alone, so canine lifeguards provide additional companionship and protection. There are now around 300 dog units patrolling about 30 Italian beaches, with one trainer per pup.

Labradors, golden retrievers, and Newfoundland terriers typically receive preference, though all dogs are permitted to attend the schools. Canines that exceed at training are calm under pressure and have impeccable swimming skills.

The dogs train with their handlers for a year to become a ‘six-legged’ rescuer in a role that can involve jumping out of boats and helicopters, says The Times.

Upon graduation, each dog is bestowed the status of expert, says Pet Relocation.

Currently, the Italian School of Canine Lifeguards boasts over a dozen training schools countrywide. The inception of a water rescue dog academy began over twenty years ago by Ferruccio Pilenga, who trained his own Newfoundland as Italy’s very first water rescue canine.

Lifedogs are paired up with a human lifeguard. The lifeguard serves not only as a partner, but also as the canine trainer. Lifedogs and lifeguards are said to maintain a special bond, much like that of police dogs and their human law enforcement partners.

Lifedogs typically wear a harness which tows a buoy for drowning victims to grab, or a raft they can sit on to be towed back safely to shore.

The main objectives of lifedogs are to help contain the physical fatigue of the human lifeguard, increase the speed of recovery time on causalities and contribute an additional layer of security for the lifeguard physically.

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