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RNLI urges dog walkers to take care around our coastlines

Lifeboats News Release

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.

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.
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.’

‘By following a few simple steps dog owners can help reduce the number of these types of incidents can be reduced and keep themselves from further danger:

- 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’

Guy continued: ‘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 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’

Notes to editors
• In 2015 the RNLI launched 100 times to incidents involving animals of which 77 involved dogs.
• In 2015, 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.

RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Dave Riley, RNLI Public Relations Officer on 01202 336134 or or the Press Office on 01202 336789 /


Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland