A dad-of-three who waded into the sea up to his neck to try to save his dog today urged other pet owners to think twice about risking their lives.
Adam Stait, 37. was on Rossall beach on Sunday with his three young children – aged eight, four and three – and his one-year-old Springer Spaniel Gunner when it bolted into the water.
Adam says he became concerned the seagull-chasing pooch had started to go out too far and went in to try to retrieve a tiring Gunner.
And while he says he never felt his own life was in danger, he admits his body began to tense up in the cold water as a crowd of onlookers watched on from the shore.
Today, he told The Gazette: “I knew there were risks but I was sure I could get back with him.
“What I would say to people is do not underestimate your dog’s ability to swim. Gunner was swimming for around an hour.
“I could not have swum for that length of time.
“It was cold and he was in a long way. I would tell everyone to keep a close eye on your dogs – this all happened so quickly.
“Be very cautious around the sea, and what you choose to do – your dog will no doubt be able to last a lot longer out there than you.
“Until you’re put in that situation you just don’t realise how bad it can turn out.”
The drama unfolded when Adam, a welder from Layton, and his children were enjoying the day out with Gunner when he became distracted at 12.30pm on Sunday.
Adam said: “Gunner likes to chase seagulls but this time he started to go out a bit far.
“When I turned around he was out much further than I would have liked.
“I started to get concerned and things just escalated - the sea was quite choppy and the weather wasn’t the best.
“At one point I didn’t think I was going to get him back. He was in the water for close to an hour.
“He was just getting further and further away.”
Adam began to try to attract the attention of the seagulls in an attempt to bring his dog back to safety. He threw rocks into the air and then pieces of food to tempt the gulls back inland.
Adam said: “After a time I entered the water up to my knees.
“I was trying to attract the seagulls so my dog would chase them back to land.
“People gave me bits of food to lure them towards me - a big line of people were calling his name, there were a lot of people helping me.
“He started to come towards me and I went in up to my chest and then my neck.
“I started swimming and managed to grab his collar.
“I could feel my body tensing up in the cold water. But my dog started pulling me back to the beach.”
A crowd of around 60 people gathered along the beach to help with the unfolding incident, and Adam says he is grateful for their support.
He said: “When we eventually got Gunner back in, everyone clapped and cheered.
“I was cold when I got out of the water and shivering. People passed me towels which I used to dry my dog – I was really worried about him.
“We went to a house where a local veterinary nurse and friend, Beccy Green, helped to check him over as he had become quite cold.
“The people were just amazing, I really want to thank everyone who helped me that day.”
The Coastguard says rescue teams were called to the incident and the RNLI inshore boat was launched.
Resources were stood down a short time later.
Local coastguard rescue teams are now warning members of the public not to enter the sea to save stranded pets.
A spokesman said: “Many of the team are dog owners ourselves and can understand it’s an emotive subject, but please don’t try to rescue a dog.
“There is a long history on this coastline of persons drowning while trying to rescue dogs.”
Both Gunner and his owner escaped unharmed from the incident.