DIVING dogs showcased their skills in a water rescue training event at Rother Valley Country Park.
The pooches from the Pete Lewin Newfoundlands charity helped South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue save struggling swimmers from the cold water.
Three Newfoundlands and one Leonberger scent dog joined Edlington and Aston Park crews for the training exercise — a first for the service.
Firefighters had a chance to learn what the dogs can do and how they might be employed in a real rescue.
Station manager Chris Lally said: “Water rescue is an area in which a select number of our firefighters specialise.
“Any opportunity we get to explore new and advanced ways of carrying out this function is always welcomed within the service.”
He added: “Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning.
“It is essential to be aware of the hidden dangers that rivers, lakes and reservoirs can present.”
Newfoundlands are huge dogs, with adults weighing over 50kg. They have webbed feet, water-resistant coats and are excellent swimmers.
Their intelligence and obedience make them ideal water rescue animals, pulling people out on ropes.
Leonbergers are also strong mountain dogs, which also act as tugs and local casualties by smell.
The fire service does not currently use water rescue dogs, but hopes to employ the furry trainees in the near future.
Pete Lewin Newfoundlands is a not-for-profit organisation using the breed to promote water safety and deliver workshops to children.
The dogs are also used in emotional support swims, for people suffering with stress-related problems.
Charity founder and paramedic Pete Lewin said: “We have developed various manoeuvres for getting people out of the water with the dogs.
“Over the past eight years we have been looking into rescue work with these powerful and amazing animals and have trained with a number of fire and rescue services throughout the country.
“We would like to thank South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for inviting us to Rother Valley and for giving us the opportunity to train with the crews.”
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