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River rescue dog nips lifeboat crew

Monday October 5th 2009

A dog bit two lifeboat crew members as they tried to rescue her from the Thames Estuary, the RNLI has revealed.

Tess, a German Shepherd cross, wounded Ian Smith and Chris Cheeseman in her panic. They were given medical checks and antibiotics in Gravesham Community Hospital.

Out for a walk with her owner, Tess entered the water for a swim but became confused and swam half a mile off the shore of Essex's Canvey Island.

Thames Coastguard directed Gravesend RNLI lifeboat, which was returning from a previous service, to help the dog.

Helmsman on Gravesend lifeboat Mr Smith said there were chances Tess, who was in a "distressed and confused state", would drown as she got more worn out.

"She was not wearing a collar which made getting hold of her all the more awkward," he said. "We made an ad hoc lead from a yacht harness and attempted to slip it over her head while manoeuvring the lifeboat alongside.

Tess "nipped" Mr Cheeseman on the thumb in the first attempt, and when Mr Smith tried to slip the lead over her head, she got hold of him and bit his left forearm.

The dog was was finally lifted on board and taken back to her owner.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

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