Canines Save Lives: Dogs Trained as Lifeguards Save Swimmers on Italian Beach

By Peyton Phillips August 17, 2021
A trio of dog-lifeguards helped save fourteen struggling swimmers that were about 330 feet offshore battling strong wind and high waves.

A group of 14 people were struggling in strong wind and high waves at an Italian beach, and were rescued with the help of Italy’s lifeguard dogs.

A trio of Labrador retrievers — Eros, 4, Mira, 5, and Mya, 7 — helped the Italian swimmers that were around 330 feet off the shore of Sperlonga, an area halfway between Naples and Rome. The group included eight children between the ages of 6 and 12. The family struggled to get back to shore after their floats and surf equipment began to capsize due to strong wind and waves. One of the family member’s began calling for help and got the attention of three nearby dog units.

The Italian School of Rescue Dogs (SICS) monitors approximately 30 Italian beaches, with 300 dog units, with one trainer per pup. Eros, Mya and Mira were able to bring the group to shore in approximately 15 minutes. 

Roberto Gasbarri, the head of SICS’s center-south department, said that dogs are “fundamental” in rescuing struggling swimmers, because big groups of people are too much for a small group of lifeguards to handle alone.

Labradors, golden retrievers and Newfoundland terriers are the preferred breed for dog-lifeguarding, but all dogs are permitted to attend the training schools. Canines that perform particularly well are those that are calm under pressure and have exemplary swimming skills. Webbed feet and water-resistant coats are an added bonus.

Image source: The Times