Golden retriever Monty survives fall from cliff

Sidmouth Lifeboat and crew back at the boathouse on Sunday afternoon. Ref shs 07-16SH 1680. Picture:

Sidmouth Lifeboat and crew back at the boathouse on Sunday afternoon. Ref shs 07-16SH 1680. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A family did ‘exactly the right thing’ and called the coastguard when their dog went over the cliffs near Otterton Ledge on Sunday (February 14).

Sidmouth Lifeboat and crew back at the boathouse on Sunday afternoon. Ref shs 07-16SH 1680. Picture:

Sidmouth Lifeboat and crew back at the boathouse on Sunday afternoon. Ref shs 07-16SH 1680. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

In its first callout of 2016, Sidmouth Lifeboat launched and sped to the site at 1.20pm - but faced a rocky approach to the shore.

The only option was for crew member Guy Russell to swim the 150 metres to reach Monty, an excitable but unharmed golden retriever, and get him to safety.

“The dog half-fell and half-scrambled down the steep cliff,” he said. “There was no way in hell he was going to be able to get back up. He was very lucky he didn’t injure himself. He was quite young and excitable.”

Guy said a woman and child kept watch on the cliff-top while a man tried to make his way down to Budleigh Salterton beach, but Monty was across the fast-flowing River Otter at the base of the cliff. The man tried to get across, but knew it was not safe and called the coastguard.


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“The owner tried to get across to get his dog, but that would’ve been an absolute disaster,” said Guy. “The river was running very fast. As soon as he lost his footing, he would’ve been gone. He did exactly the right thing [and called the coastguard] – he would’ve been swept out to sea.”

The rocky sea floor, the winter swell and strong currents combined for dangerous conditions, but Guy managed the 150-metre swim from the lifeboat to the shore and got a rope around Monty. He could not make it across the river with the dog, so Exmouth Coastguard crew members threw him a line from Budleigh beach.

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Guy hailed the communication between the teams and said the professionalism of the operation was a good confidence boost for Guy Bennett on his first time at the helm of the lifeboat after he qualified last year. He added: “When people lose dogs like this, their initial reaction is to go in themselves, but it’s not always the best option. Some people feel silly calling the coastguard – it’s what we’re there for.”

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