Please keep your dog on a lead near water!

Tue 15 Nov, 2016

Firefighters have launched a campaign urging dog-walkers to keep their pets on leads when near water. They are also asking them to call 999 if a dog gets into difficulty in the water rather than going in after it.

The campaign was launched on Friday (11 November) at Vets4Pets, at Pets at Home in Osier Way, Buckingham, where firefighters from Newport Pagnell Fire Station talked to staff and distributed leaflets. They were joined for a group photograph (above) by Skye the Labrador and unveiled a 3 metre by 1 metre banner (top).

Newport Pagnell Fire Station is home to one of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's two Water Rescue Units, comprising specially trained and equipped firefighters, 4x4 vehicles and boats. The other one is at Beaconsfield Fire Station.

The Water Rescue Units enable crews to carry out rescues both on the water and from the banks. In addition, all of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's firefighters are trained in water awareness and bankside rescue. 

Crew Commander Stuart Irwin from Newport Pagnell Fire Station said: "With the recent wet weather, and the possibility of ice forming on our local waterways later in the year, we felt this was the right time to raise people's awareness.

"A large number of water-related incidents we attend are as a result of owners attempting to rescue their dogs from the water, which is why we strongly advise owners to keep dogs on a lead near water.

"Should your dog get into difficulty in a lake, river or other waterway, please don't put your safety or other people’s at risk by going in after it. The water is often a lot colder than you expect and it can impact on your physical capabilities. 

"Stay calm and dial 999 for help. Look for any landmarks that you could describe to the operator, and explain as clearly as possible where you are and the name of the river, lake or canal.

"Remember, firefighters are trained and equipped to deal with these incidents."

Stuart offered the following additional advice:

  • Avoid throwing sticks or balls near water for dogs - they will go after it if they think you want it back, even if you've thrown it too far or into dangerous water.
  • Wet riverbanks, steep edges or jagged rocks can make it hard for a dog to scramble out and be a slip risk for owners.
  • Don't lean into water and try to lift your dog out - you can topple in.
  • If your dog has struggled in the water it may have inhaled water and should see a vet as dogs can drown after the event if water has entered the lungs.