These Lifeguards do More Than Just Doggy Paddle

Canine lifeguards recently helped 14 people in high waves.


Pets, Volunteers
These Lifeguards do More Than Just Doggy Paddle | Canine lifeguards recently helped 14 people in high waves.

While lifeguards are expected to save swimmers in trouble. A special group of lifeguards recently saved 14 people who needed assistance. Only these rescuers had four legs instead of two and are part of Italy’s lifeguard dogs.

The canine lifeguards assisted in rescuing the group of 14 people – from three families – who were struggling with high waves and winds in Sperlonga, which is located halfway in-between Rome and Naples, according to CNN.

The group, which included eight children, were trying to get back to shore after their inflatables and dinghies began to capsize, Roberto Gasbarri from the Italian rescue dog school (SICS) told CNN. SICS routinely patrols 30 Italian beaches with over 300 units that contain one dog and one trainer.

When the people started calling for help, three dog units were nearby enough to come to their aid along with the help of two-legged lifeguards. Canine rescuers Eros, Mya and Mira, brought the people to shore in 15 minutes. Gasbarri said that the group was too large to be saved by human lifeguards alone.

The school, which opened almost 30 years ago,  accepts all breeds of dogs as long as they weigh 30 kg. But the breed that seems to be the most suited to the job are Newfoundland’s, according to the organization. Each dog has to be able to pull a boat of 30 people between 300 to 2,000 meters.

“The Newfoundland breed started as a water rescue dog,” Simonetta Andreoli, who has been working with dogs for 17 years told ABC News. “This breed is meant to swim [because] its fur is waterproof and the shape of its whole body is really designed for swimming.”

The training takes at least a year and there are currently approximately 400 trained rescue dogs in Italy. Once licensed, the owners of the dogs, volunteer their time on the beaches.

The dog and owner work as a team and use the dolphin system when swimming to a rescue. The handler holds on to the dogs’ harness in the water and is able to save energy to use in the rescue without being exhausted from the swim.

Besides being lifeguards, according to the school, graduates of SICS  collaborate with Italian helicopter rescue teams including: Air Rescue, police, customs, and fire services. These hardworking dogs are trained to jump out of helicopters  and to go straight to work.

“The dogs assist our operations during the summer months,” Fabio Moro, a first marshal harbor coachman who works for the Italian Coast Guard, told ABC. “Rescue dogs help us keep these areas under control.”

These canine heroes do more than just doggy paddle. They do real lifesaving work and they deserve their weight in kibble, treats, and love.

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