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Minehead RNLI rescue dog from the bottom of the cliff

Lifeboats News Release

Dog owners have been warned to keep their animals on leads when walking on cliff tops after an injured pet was rescued by Minehead’s RNLI lifeboat crew.

Indy, a year-old cocker spaniel, was located and retrieved after falling down a 150-foot cliff at Hurlestone Point, near Porlock, on Thursday afternoon.

The animal had been walking with its owners on a narrow path near a former coastguard look-out and is thought to have slipped over the edge while chasing a stone.

Minehead’s D-class lifeboat was launched and after crew members Charlie Gay and Richard Huish swam ashore she was found among boulders exposed by the low tide at the base of the cliff.

After checking the animal over the crew put her aboard the lifeboat and took her to nearby Bossington Beach to be handed back to her grateful owners.

Charlie said the animal had clearly been shocked by the experience.

“Luckily it’s not a sheer drop down from where she went off the path: there is a steep grassy slope and then a steeply angled rock face, which is where she must have come down,” he said.

“She had a few scratches and bumps and was very shaken up but it could have been much worse.”

Three years ago the Minehead crew carried out another dog rescue five miles to the west when they came across another spaniel which had been stranded for a week after falling over the edge of Foreland Point.

And earlier this year coastguards had to rescue a woman who had got into difficulties while trying to rescue her animal at the foot of cliffs near Watchet.

Minehead lifeboat spokesman Chris Rundle said the three incidents highlighted the importance of not letting dogs run loose in perilous locations.

“Dogs have no appreciation of the danger of cliffs and if they start to chase a bird, an animal or a stone they just follow their instincts,” he said.

“The RNLI is there principally to save human lives but we will always do what we can if animals are in trouble, as long as the conditions are favourable.

“In this case the sea was calm and we were able to get close in to the rocks and put our two crew members ashore without any undue risk to them or the boat.

“Give the inaccessible spot where the dog was stuck had we not intervened it is quite possible it would have drowned when the tide came in. Alternatively its owners may have tried to find and rescue it themselves, which could have exposed them to serious risk at one of the most dangerous locations along this coastline.”

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