Italy's canine lifeguards

Updated: August 23, 2010 19:53 IST

Italy's coast guard has deployed hundreds of specially trained dogs to help rescue tourists on Italy's busy summer beaches. Each dog works in a team with its human lifeguard "colleague," who is also its trainer. The duo is trained to rescue drowning swimmers. The dogs are willing to jump directly from a moving speedboat or jetski into the water to rescue a swimmer.

Italy\'s canine lifeguards
Italy's coast guard has deployed hundreds of specially trained dogs to help rescue tourists on Italy's busy summer beaches. Each dog works in a team with its human lifeguard "colleague," who is also its trainer. The duo is trained to rescue drowning swimmers. The dogs are willing to jump directly from a moving speedboat or jetski into the water to rescue a swimmer.

In this September 2008 photo provided by SICS (Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio-Italian School of Canine Lifeguards), Mas the dog, jumps from a helicopter ahead of his lifeguard and school founder Ferruccio Pilenga, during a patent test at Lago D'Iseo lake Italy. (AP Photo)
Italy\'s canine lifeguards
A terranova dog jumps from a lifeguard boat during a training in Isola D'Elba Island, Italy. Hundreds of specially trained dogs form Italy's corps of canine lifeguards, deployed each summer to help swimmers who get into trouble in the nation's popular seas. Unlike their human counterparts, these lifedogs can easily jump from helicopters and speeding boats to reach swimmers in need of a rescue. (AP Photo)
Italy\'s canine lifeguards
With millions flocking to Italy's crowded beaches each summer, the Italian Coast Guard says it rescues about 3,000 people every year, and their canine helpers are credited with saving several lives. Every dog is equipped with a harness for victims to hold on to, to make the rescue operation easier. (AP Photo)
Italy\'s canine lifeguards
Alyssha the dog, and her lifeguard Donatella Pasquale, are lowered from a helicopter during an exercise at Lago D'Iseo lake, Italy. Each dog works in a team with its human lifeguard "colleague," who is also its trainer. The duo is trained to rescue drowning swimmers. (AP Photo)
Italy\'s canine lifeguards
Mas the dog, and his lifeguard and school founder Ferruccio Pilenga, perform a rescue during a training at Isola D'Elba island, Italy. Italy's Coast Guard has to intervene in more than three-thousand cases every year to rescue people amid sport players, skin-divers and bathers.

Breeds like Labrador, Terranova and Golden Retriver are the most qualified dogs to be involved in the rescue operation as they have a natural water instinct and for years they've been used by fishermen to bring in fishing nets. (AP Photo)

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