Four ways to protect your pet while at sea to prevent a boating accident or overboard tragedy.
Luna’s owner thought she’d never see her beloved pooch after she suffered a boating accident and went overboard off the coast of San Clemente Island last month. The one-and-a-half year old German Shepherd/Husky mix fell off her owner’s fishing vessel in a split second while her owner had been turned around. Upon realizing Luna was missing, he (and others) began searching for her. However, she was nowhere to be found – at least not in the water.
After being presumed dead, a miracle happened. Five weeks after Luna fell overboard, she was found wandering around a nearby navy base. It turns out the resilient pooch had some pretty powerful survival techniques and managed to swim to shore, and lived on a diet of small rodents before she was found.
Luna’s story is remarkable. She not only swam to shore, but then she also was able to do what she needed to do to survive. Yet, not all pets that experience an overboard accident are as lucky. If you plan to go boating with your pet, it is important to take precautions to keep your pet safe and prevent a pet overboard or boating accident.
- Get your pet acclimated to the boat – First thing’s first; before you take your pet out to sea, you’ll want to make sure they are comfortable in a boat. A panicking pet won’t likely be able to easily take commands. Be honest about your pet’s limits and don’t push your pet into a maritime situation before he or she is ready.
- Purchase a pet a life jacket – Like humans, pets need life jackets also when heading into open waters. Even if your pet knows how to swim, you’ll want to invest in a pet life jacket in case sea or weather conditions are rough, the pet is injured, or you are separated from one another. Pet flotation devices are equipped with handles that will allow you to more easily pull your pet out of the water if your dog or cat falls overboard.
- Pet-proof your boat – Think of pets like small children. You would naturally keep loose articles and generally unsafe materials from a child’s grasp, right? Well, you’ll want to pet-proof your boat also to ensure their safety. For instance, if you anticipate that you’ll have to leave your pet unattended, you may want to invest in a large kennel or case where your pet can safely rest while on the boat. Luna fell overboard while she was unattended. Although she was clearly a savvy canine, her boating accident may have been prevented had her owner put her in a kennel when she was not under supervision. Some people choose to tether their pets, but if you do tether your pet, the animal should be supervised at all times. Another measure you can take to ensure the safety of your pet is to make sure that the surfaces of your boat are slip-resistant.
- Invest in identification tags – If you plan to boat with your pet, make sure your pet is wearing an I.D. tag before setting sail. Luna was able to be reunited with her owner thanks to her tag. Having your phone number, an alternative contact, and your address makes it more likely that you’ll be reunited with your pet.
Boating with your pet can be fun and enjoyable, but it is important to make sure that you plan ahead before you head out to sea. Luna was fortunate to be able to swim to dry land, but taking precautions can make such pet overboard situations less likely.