First rescue for new Swanage lifeboat as dog falls over cliff

A family pet dog sustained a leg injury but was lucky to survive after an 80 foot fall at Old Harry near Swanage in Dorset.

Swanage RNLI’s new inshore lifeboat Roy Norgrove received its first ever callout, along with the all weather lifeboat and coastguard teams from Swanage and St Albans, just before 3 pm on Saturday 20th January 2024.

Dog rescued by Swanage lifeboat
Swanage Coastguard

Lillii the dog was safely reunited with her owners at South Beach in Studland

Family pet took an 80 foot tumble

First on the scene were the coastguard teams who assessed the situation and decided it would be safer for a lifeboat crew to rescue the dog called Lillii from the small bay at the foot of the cliff, rather than deploy a coastguard down the cliff on ropes.

At the time, Swanage Lifeboat Station was holding an open day for the community to view its new inshore lifeboat but suddenly the pagers went off and rather than just inspecting the vessel, everyone got to see both the lifeboats and their crews spring into action.

Dog rescued by Swanage lifeboat

Volunteer crew member Fergus Holley on the radio as the new inshore lifeboat is launched for its first rescue since arriving at Swanage Lifeboat Station in December 2024

Lillii looked pleased to see the lifeboat crew

The inshore lifeboat carefully navigated the shallow waters along the northern side of Old Harry and was able to drop two volunteer lifeboat crew ashore to retrieve Lillii.

The dog appeared to be pleased to see the lifeboat arrive and tentatively approached the crew who picked her up and carried her to the lifeboat as she appeared to have injured one of her back legs.

The inshore lifeboat made its way to the all weather lifeboat to collect a blanket to cover Lillii who was shivering from the cold and shock and to provide some shelter from the wind and spray as the inshore lifeboat made its way to nearby South Beach in Studland Bay.

The coastguard teams were standing by on the beach to receive Lillii and were able to return her safely to her owners.

Dog rescued by Swanage lifeboat
Swanage Coastguard

The lifeboat crew rescue the dog from the cut off cove

“Thankfully Lillii had survived the fall”

Swanage lifeboat helm Becky Mack said:

“We were quickly able to locate Lillii thanks to the first informant having called the coastguard to assist with locating and recovering the dog.

“Although it was cold and choppy on route to Old Harry, the northern side was sheltered and easy for the inshore lifeboat to reach.

“Thankfully Lillii had survived the fall and was happy to be picked up by the volunteer lifeboat crew, so that we could quickly return her to land where she could be taken by her owners to the vet.”

“Fractures to a knee joint and toes”

Swanage Coastguard added:

“Lillii was taken straight to a vet and we have just heard she has fractures to a knee joint and toes, so will be staying at the vets for a few days. The family has thanked everyone involved in the rescue.

“When near cliffs please keep dogs on leads – In an emergency ring 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

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