Thursday, April 16, 2015

Planning For Dog Rescues -- Part Three: Preparing Ahead of Time

Now's the time to come clean about something that happened on the day I was paddling in Cadboro Bay and saw a dog in distress. The whole day didn't happen as simply as I reported it on the blog in Planning For Dog Rescues -- Part One.
The rest of the story is, after paddling I called the Pound to report seeing a dog in distress at the base of a steep, rocky cliff in Cadboro Bay. As it was a Sunday and the Pound was closed, the call routed directly to the front desk of the municipal police station. Police don't usually rescue dogs, said a nice constable, which I understood -- but I had telephoned the Pound, who DO pick up dogs in distress, which the nice cop understood.
Unfortunately, the dog's location presented two problems. The first I outlined in Part One: whose job is it to rescue dogs in distress on the water or shoreline? The answer is different in every community, according to what rescue services are available. It's a good idea for dog owners to find out the local answer, and to prepare their own dog with a PFD and safety practise as I outlined in Part Two. As it was, this non-owner of dogs spent over an hour on the phone with the local police, SPCA, Fire Hall, and others who said I really ought to call the Pound. Nobody wanted me to call the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society, who keep a suitable Zodiac boat at a nearby dock (even if they just might have wanted a practise run).
The second problem was even bigger. Nobody could understand my description of the dog's location. I had to explain the dog wasn't on the beach at Cadboro-Gyro Park, and that if a beat cop came to the beach s/he would be able to hear the dog bark a kilometre away around the curve of the bay, but not see it. As I wrote on the blog back in 2011, even a bright-coloured object is invisible against the dark rocky shore.

John took this photo in January 2011.
And how to describe that dark rocky shore? Friends understood instantly later when I said, "Between the Buddha dock and the little rock garden, where John took photos of the mother otter pushing her babies up the cliff." Unfortunately, only paddlers familiar with that shoreline from the water understood.
It didn't do any good to say "At the base of the cliff below the big grey house on Somewhere Drive, the grey house with white window trim, between the white house and the dark brown house." That's information useful to someone on that road or on the water, not a dispatcher on the phone.
Not only did the landlubbers I called have no idea where I was describing, they had no way to imagine it. It was as if anywhere not right on a road was in some mysterious foggy place.
So I am now preparing ahead of time for any shoreline incident that could require rescue of a person OR a dog. I have two ways to be prepared.
The first is to always carry my SPOT beacon. I hadn't pushed the emergency rescue button that day because it was a dog trapped at the base of the cliff, not a human. If it happens again, I'll get close and push the OK button to send myself & friends a satellite signal with my GPS location on GoogleMaps. I'll have the OK signal set to go to KayakYak website. That way, when I call the Pound, I can say: "Go online. Look up . See that OK message? Click on the link. See that Google Map with a spot marked? THAT's where the dog is."
The other way I'll be prepared is to become familiar with the street addresses for every house along the shorelines where I usually paddle. The big grey house with white window trim has an exact street address that shows in GoogleMaps and in the municipality's online map on its website. That way I can say "at the waterfront backyard for 2876 Somewhere Avenue" or "on the shoreline at 2800-block of Somewhere Drive."

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