23 Aug 2014
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Would You Risk Your Life to Save Your Dog?

A Northern California family suffered tragedy over the weekend trying to save the family pet. In January, a dog almost drowned in Dana Point, but Ocean Institute crew came to its rescue.

Would You Risk Your Life to Save Your Dog?

Would you jump in the ocean to save the family pet?

Yahoo News is reporting a family trying to do just that in Northern California over the weekend resulted in tragedy.

"Family members trying to rescue their dog from powerful surf in Northern California were swept out to sea, leaving a couple dead and their 16-year-old son missing, authorities said," according to the report.

"Waves reaching 10 feet in height pulled the dog into the ocean as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, a beach north of Eureka, said Dana Jones, a state Parks and Recreation district superintendent, the report says.

Additionally, the news report adds, "Jones said the boy went after the dog, prompting his father to go after them. She said the teenager was able to get out, but when he didn't see his father, he and his mother went into the water looking for him."

"Both were dragged into the ocean," Jones said of Saturday's tragedy in the report.

The report further states, a park ranger had to run a half mile to get to the beach because his car wasn't made to handle the terrain. When he arrived, he wasn't able to get to them because of the high surf.

Rescuers eventually retrieved the mother's body and the father's body washed up. The dog got out of the water on its own, the report states.

You can read more here.

A Local Almost-Tragedy

Back in January, Laguna Niguel Patch blogger, Cheryl Pruett, a volunteer at the Ocean Institute, wrote a story about what could have been another family tragedy, but it had a happy ending. It involved a deaf dog that needed rescuing from a precarious situation in very cold water in Dana Point harbor—58 degrees.

Here is what she wrote: "I’m happy to say no one was hurt during the rescue operation on Wednesday morning when 1-year-old Duke, a 65-pound Boxer, took a misstep that landed him in hot water—so to speak. Thanks to screams and yells for help by Duke’s owner, three Ocean Institute staff put their training into action at the Dana Point harbor.

"It just happens the three staff members are among the crew of the Ocean Institute   of Dana Point. Carly Rocha, Mary Elizabeth Portwood and Eric Martel jumped into a 14-foot dinghy and motored about 100 feet away to aid Meredith McKenzie. McKenzie was hanging half-on and half-off her sailboat, holding on to Duke by the collar and chest to keep his head above water.

Rocha and Portwood untangled Duke, who was partially caught in some lines when he fell trying to get on his owners’ boat.

Martel said, “We are used to rescues because we regularly do 'Man Overboard' training for our ships at the Ocean Institute.”

Even the Ocean Institute Program Director of Maritime Karin Vardaman rowed out in a 14-foot longboat to check on the dog’s health.   

Duke’s owners, Randy and Meredith McKenzie, had only purchased the boat around Christmas. The incident interrupted an outing to buy Duke’s life vest and take him for a walk. The McKenzies will complete Duke’s training by giving him lessons on using the boat’s swim steps. By the way, Duke recognizes sign language. 

Duke is a lucky dog. His owner hung on to him for dear life for at least 10 minutes before help arrived. The luck continued with the good fortune of experienced Ocean Institute staff at hand.

Actually, the only “casualty” was Meredith’s front crown that was knocked out and now is at the bottom of Dana Point harbor.

When the rescue was over, Rocha went back to work at the Ocean Institute’s Kids’ Conference on Watershed. Portwood went back to another teaching program in progress at the Institute and Martel went back to work on the Spirit of Dana Point."

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