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‘We like a good ending’: First responders rescue dog lost at sea for nearly a half hour

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The Columbia Animal Services is one of several places in the midlands where pets can be adopted.

It’s a bird. It’s a boat . . .

Whatever it was, Lucy the English Setter was determined to get it.

About a half hour after Lucy broke through a shock collar on the beach and swam out about 150 yards, Pawleys Island police and Midway Fire Rescue personnel recovered her from the ocean on Monday near 404 Myrtle Avenue in Pawleys Island.

“She thought the dog might have spotted a catamaran out there but there was also some birds,” Pawleys Island Police Chief Michael Fanning said of the owner, a local resident named Renee. “The dog — it’s an English Setter — had taken off after one or the other — either the boat or the birds.”

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Local resident Renee carries Lucy, an English Settler who took off into the ocean for nearly a half hour Monday in Pawleys Island. Pawleys Island Police Department

First responders initially thought they were dealing with a human in distress.

Pawleys Island police received a distressed swimmer call at about 1:20 p.m., Fanning said. Fanning, who said he happened to be nearby, responded and saw a man about 75 yards out who did not appear to be struggling. Beachgoers pointed him to Renee, who notified him that her dog had run out into the ocean and that the man was out there trying to find her.

Renee had initially tried to go after Lucy, but turned around and called 911 because the ocean was too rough, Midway Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mark Nugent said.

“You typically think of us protecting human beings, but we’re going to protect an animal any opportunity we get as well,” he said. “We don’t discriminate.”

Pawleys Island Police Investigator Jono Fairfield was near where the department keeps their jet skis and deployed, along with a Midway rescuer on a surf board, in search of the dog. At one point a Midway rescuer on the beach spotted Lucy using binoculars, and Fairfield headed that way.

When Fairfield arrived, it was a best-case scenario.

“She was out there quite a while. We were actually happily surprised that she was still out there swimming and floating,” Fanning said.

As Fairfield arrived with the dog on board of the jet ski, those on the “not heavily populated beach” showed their appreciation for the first responders’ efforts, Fanning said.

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Pawleys Island Police Investigator Jono Fairfield. Pawleys Island Police Department

“The people that were there saw it all go down and there was some clapping and cheering as the puppy was brought in and everybody realized it was alive,” Fanning said, adding that the 14-month-old dog “still had a little puppy in her and I think that saved her.”

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Pawleys Island police and Midway Fire Rescue personnel use a dog oxygen mask on Lucy, an English Settler who took off into the ocean for nearly a half hour Monday in Pawleys Island. Pawleys Island Police Department

With Lucy on shore, Midway Rescue used a dog oxygen mask that Invisible Fence of the Coastal Carolinas donated to help the canine, who Nugent said had taken in a good amount of water.

“We knew full and well that at some point we were going have an opportunity that this could possibly save an animal’s life and, darn, we didn’t know it would be four days later,” Nugent said of the mask.

Lucy was taken to a vet and was checked out and made it back home Monday afternoon.

Whether human or canine, a success story is always welcomed by first responders.

“I wish every outcome could be like that. We’ll take every one of those we can get,” Nugent said. “We see some bad stuff too, but to be able to bring that dog back to her owner and to get the opportunity to take them to the vet’s office and get them home is even better. The lady was very grateful.

“We like a good ending.”

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