Saturday, January 29, 2022

Holiday Tragedy on the Water Averted

Our pets quickly become members of our extended families as soon as they enter our homes. So, when one is injured or becomes ill, we immediately become very concerned and do all we can to nurse them back to health.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, December 18 a local family who desires to remain anonymous were enjoying a wonderful day out on the water with their dog. They noticed that their boat needed to be repositioned on the beach just off Marco Island. As the tide was going out the dog’s owner and the son of a local woman climbed back onto their boat to start it and move the vessel to re-secure it.

No one on shore had noticed that the family dog had swam around the back of the boat to re-board it by climbing up the ladder at the rear ladder, said the young man’s mother. “The dog is so attached to my son he must have thought he was going to leave. None of us even saw him swim around to the back of the boat,” said his mother.

When her son started the engine and engaged the controls the dog was struck by the boat’s prop several times, injuring the family dog before they could disengage the prop and shut down the engine. The family quickly went to the dog’s aid and immediately loaded him onto their boat and called authorities. They were told to proceed to the docks at the Snook Inn at the end of Bald Eagle Drive.

When they arrived at the dock, they were met by Marco Island police officers, including Chief Al Schettino, who immediately had the dog and its owner loaded into his car for transport to the Marco Veterinary Hospital on San Marco Road. Officers called ahead to make personnel aware of the incident and the incoming injured dog. They were met by Dr. Carrie Tomasino Portu, who immediately attended to the dog’s injuries, while the family waited anxiously outside in the waiting room.

An evaluation of the injuries found the wounds to be less serious than originally believed and the lacerations were cleaned and sutured. Days later, the dog was found to be in excellent spirits when he visited the Veterinary Hospital for a follow up examination.

“We were lucky that this didn’t result in a more tragic outcome,” said Lt. Clayton Smith. “Everyone should take to heart the need to be exceptionally careful when out on the water. Take the time to insure there is no one near the rear of the boat when attempting to move it. If you’re alone on the boat, walk to the rear and warn people that you are going to be engaging the engine and props and to stay away,” said Lt. Smith.

“You should also realize that it is against the law to have individuals sitting on the bow of your boat and hanging their feet over the sides. We have had fatalities result from this type of disregard for basic boater safety,” added Lt. Smith. “Even if a boat operator immediately disengages or shuts an engine down, it doesn’t mean that the prop stops moving. In just a few short seconds an individual or animal can sustain very serious, if not fatal, injuries,” cautioned Smith.

“These types of holiday incidents are the last thing on our visitors’ minds as they seek to enjoy their times out on the water. We just ask that you be aware of your surroundings and the dangers. Take the time to be especially careful so your holiday adventure doesn’t turn into a tragedy and enjoy your time with us,” said Chief Schettino.

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