Success at Welly Walk event
Dog walkers trekked over 200 combined miles on a Welsh beach last weekend (Sunday 29th April) to raise awareness of staying safe when walking near the coast.
The ‘Welly Walkies’ event at Aberavon Beach attracted more than a hundred people, many with dogs, to walk a 3km route on the sand.
The event was hosted by national veterinary group, Vets4Pets, and the RNLI, as part of their ongoing pilot partnership in Wales.
As part of this scheme, Vets4Pets practices and RNLI stations across Wales have teamed up to provide their local communities with the skills and knowledge needed to keep themselves and their pets safe around the water.
“Welly Walkies was a fantastic event and we’re delighted to have been involved to help spread messages of coastal safety to local families,” said Chris Cousens, the RNLI’s Community Safety Partner in Wales.
“Hundreds of walkers have sadly died around the UK coast since 2011, many when walking their dog, which is why partnering with Vets4Pets has been a great opportunity to spread safety messages to the Welsh dog-owning communities.
“The event was also the perfect way to kick off our annual fundraiser Mayday campaign and we are really grateful to everyone who donated some money to the RNLI this weekend.
“Any money raised will go towards buying kit which helps to keep our dedicated volunteers safe whilst they save lives at sea.”
The partnership between the RNLI and Vets4Pets was first launched last year to support the RNLI’s Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign, focusing on a key group of users which the RNLI has identified as being at risk when on or near the coast – dog walkers.
Vets4Pets, which has 24 surgeries across Wales, two of which are Companion Care practices, are working with the charity, to help educate their dog-owning clients about how to stay safe when on the coast.
“It was brilliant to meet and interact with all the local dogs and their owners, and see them enjoying our event, as well as raising money for a worthy cause,” said Karlien Heyrman, clinical services manager at Vets4Pets.
“We want to help ensure that local dog owners can make the most of their time around the coast in a happy, healthy and safe way.
“This Welly Walk was a great opportunity for dogs and owners to stretch their legs along the beautiful Aberavon Beach and was the perfect way to enjoy the beach one last time before it closes to dogs over the summer months.
“After the success of this event, we hope it will become something that we can repeat in Wales again alongside the RNLI.
“We are passionate about our clients and the communities we serve, and hopefully our joint efforts with the RNLI at this event, and any future events, will help prevent any incidents of people and their pets getting into trouble in the water.”
People who attended the event enjoyed a range of activities on the RNLI and Vets4Pets stands, including expert vet advice, RNLI kit demonstrations and safety tips, welly decorating and a welly toss competition.
The 3km dog-friendly welly walk was led by Charlie and his owner Lisa Fabb from Swansea. Charlie was rescued by the Mumbles RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew last year after he swam out to sea and became stranded.
Lisa said: “The RNLI team were so brilliant when they rescued Charlie last year, that we were more than happy to help them kick start their Welly Walk on Sunday.
“It was a wonderful day, Charlie loves the beach and I could tell he enjoyed walking around the Welly Walk with all the other dogs in attendance.
“The RNLI and Vets4Pets have done fantastic job with the event and it’s great to see that they are promoting water safety messages to help reduce rescue incidents around our coast.”
Chris concluded: “While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people thinking more about their safety before and during their visit to water and the coast.
“A key message we’ll be working on with Vets4Pets, is to convey to pet owners that we would not encourage people to enter water to save pets. More often than not, the person themselves can get into danger, further escalating the jeopardy and the need for a rescue.
“Instead, people should call the Coastguard on 112 or 999 when at coastal locations or 112 or 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when at any inland waterside location. The RNLI will attend a pet in distress.”
Media information: For further information please Danielle Rush, RNLI Media Manager on 01745 585162 or 07786 668829.
About Vets4Pets and Companion Care Vets
Vets4Pets and Companion Care are part of the Pets At Home Vet Group, operated with their Joint Venture Vet Partners
As at 4th January 2018, The Pets at Home Vet Group operated 449 Vet practices across the UK, including 153 standalone and 296 in-store practices under the Vets4Pets and Companion Care brands
The Pets at Home Vet Group is committed to delivering first class service and high standards of care in their national network of small animal veterinary practices. It achieves this through joint venture partnerships with experienced and ambitious veterinary surgeons
Each Vets4Pets and Companion Care practice offers a comprehensive range of treatments from vaccinations, neutering, general healthcare and advice to the more specialised services of intensive care medicine and surgical procedures
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.