Over the past several weeks, our maritime lawyers have blogged about countless stories of tragedy at sea. Boating accidents, near drownings, and other tragedies occur frequently. Sadly, as we’ve discovered, many of these accidents could have been easily prevented with proper precaution or safety measures.
Today, we’ll take a little break from these tragedies to recount two heartwarming stories of canine maritime survival.
The first story is about a resourceful canine named Sophie Tucker, who fell overboard from a yacht near Queensland in 2008 and survived despite all odds. Sophie Tucker swam through shark-infested waters, eventually finding her way to remote, St. Bees Island. Reports claim that she swam five miles over a barrier reef notorious for dangerous marine life. Numerous boaters claim that dogs don’t often survive long when they swim in the ocean where Sophie Tucker fell overboard, and captains won’t even let their animals swim in the area.
Island natives noticed a stay dog roaming about the island and after the bodies of goats were discovered. Wildlife rangers captured the dog when she was found to be the culprit. Eventually, the news reached Sophie Tucker’s family and they wondered whether the dog was, in fact, their Sophie Tucker. The family took a chance and went to see if the dog captured by rangers was theirs, which she was. The canine, a cattle dog, survived by hunting the wild goats. Although she herself had become wild after her experience, she was reunited with her loving family and readjusted to the comforts of her home life quickly.
In another story, a Labrador somehow fell into icy ocean water in Russia and took shelter on an iceberg. A video shows the canine sitting all alone, bobbing in the ocean as snow falls into the sea. In a harrowing rescue, a man dressed in heavy layers swam out to the iceberg to save the four-legged maritime accident victim. Crew on board the ship looked on as the man pulled the small iceberg in towards the ship. The dog barked and appeared alarmed. The man managed to eventually grab the reluctant canine and pulled him to safety on board the ship. The dog rejoined his pack and was shown running happily in the snow.
These rescue scenarios highlight the fact that animal safety on board any type of vessel needs to be considered in addition to the safety of humans. Before bringing your pet on board a water craft, make sure the vessel it is pet-proof. Ensure sure there are no open areas through which your pet could fall overboard while the vessel is in motion.
You should also obtain a life jacket for your pet. Yes, life jackets are available for animals as they are for humans. And just like they are critical for saving human lives, pet life jackets can also play a pivotal role in the survival of a pet following a boating or overboard accident, especially if the pet sustains a debilitating injury. Pet lifejackets come in many shapes and sizes, just like human life jackets, and can be purchased for a minimal cost at local pet product stores.
Another way to keep your pet safe is to learn how to properly perform pet CPR and how to administer other life-saving first aid care, in the event your pet suffers an injury while in open waters or suffers a near-drowning experience. Additionally, it’s important to keep your pet comfortable by providing a designated space for bathroom necessities and pack sufficient food rations for them that can sustain the pet in the event the vessel becomes disabled.
It is every person’s responsibility to keep his or her animal safe when going out in open waters with a pet. Even so, sailing or boating with a pet can be one of life’s greatest joys. Making sure to do it safely is paramount to ensure that no accidents occur.