London RNLI lifeboat crew rescue man and dog from the River Thames

Lifeboats News Release

This is the dramatic moment an RNLI lifeboat crew in London rescued a man who had jumped into the River Thames to rescue a dog that had accidentally fallen in.

The man was balanced precariously on chains attached to the embankment wall, clutching the dog that had jumped over the wall and landed in the chilly waters of the capital’s river, known for its tidal currents and fast moving water.

The crew from the RNLI’s Tower lifeboat station – situated beneath Waterloo Bridge – were requested to launch by the UK Coastguard just after 7.45pm on Sunday 11 June, to reports of a dog in the river near St Thomas's Hospital.

The lifeboat crew asked to recover the dog to avoid members of the public entering the river and potentially putting themselves in danger. A Metropolitan Police boat was also tasked to attend.

Mick Nield, Tower RNLI lifeboat crew member, said: ‘As we neared Westminster Bridge we were given an update that, indeed, a member of the public had entered the river to try to help. We arrived on scene with the police boat and could see a man stood on the rescue chains attached to the Embankment wall.

‘He was stood just above the waterline with the dog in his hands. The police boat crew were approaching the man to recover him but when they spotted the lifeboat they gestured to us to take over the rescue.’

Mick and his crew positioned the lifeboat against the wall so the dog could be safely handed over, then the man was recovered into the lifeboat. It became apparent that he was not the owner of the dog – he had actually left his own dog above when he entered the river to help.’

The dog's owner then made himself known to the lifeboat crew and the shivering pooch was reunited with its owners.

‘It appears the dog was let off its leash and without a thought leaped over the wall into the river,’ said Mick. ‘We were just glad both the man and the dog were OK. Both were very fortunate – whilst this was a brave act, the RNLI would not usually encourage people to go into rivers or the sea to save animals, as more often than not the person themselves can get into danger, further escalating the danger and the need for a rescue.

‘The water can be very cold and, on such a busy stretch of the river there is a considerable amount of river traffic. ‘The RNLI encourages anyone who sees someone in difficulty in the River Thames to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

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RNLI media contacts

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825, paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
The moment Tower RNLI lifeboat crew rescue the man and the dog

RNLI/Tower

The moment Tower RNLI lifeboat crew rescue the man and the dog

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 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