7 min read

Coast Guard Saves Dog Trapped In Middle Of Lake Just In Time

He's hardly the first dog they've saved 💞🐶💞

The New Orleans coast guard has a long list of responsibilities under its jurisdiction, but despite the packed schedule, members of the station are never too busy to help an animal in need.

Such was the case on October 30, when the coast guard’s dispatch received a call from a concerned boater. He had spotted an older dog treading water about a half-mile offshore in Lake Pontchartrain, according to Petty Officer Adam Rice.

Luckily, a coast guard boat crew was already close by, preparing to run a training exercise. With calm waters and pleasant weather, the dog was easily spotted.

Members of the team scooped the exhausted dog into the boat, wrapped him in a blanket and headed for shore.

The black Lab mix “looked a little ratty,” Rice told The Dodo. With only a red collar, but no tag to identify him, rescuers were unsure how the dog wound up stranded in the lake all by himself.

Back at the station, the dog appeared calm and friendly, Rice noted.

"He was shaking and very scared at first, but now he is back at the station all warmed up and we gave him some snacks and water," the U.S. Coast Guard Station New Orleans wrote in a Facebook post. "We are always ready to respond!"

In hopes of finding the lost dog’s owner, employees with the Jefferson Parish East Bank Animal Shelter picked up the pup and scanned for a microchip — which proved successful.

“The dog from the lake has been returned home,” Michael Thomas, a petty officer, told The Dodo. “He was chipped, his owner was notified and he was picked up! So one dog’s life saved!”  

While this was the first time the coast guard team rescued a dog from Lake Pontchartrain, helping canines in need is their specialty.

Regular volunteers at the local animal shelter, members of the coast guard have since been inspired to start a foster program in conjunction with SPCA New Orleans. While not necessarily water-related, it’s all part of serving the community and doing what they can for the city, Thomas noted.

“At Coast Guard Station New Orleans, we naturally serve our community day in and out,” Thomas said. “Every week we send a handful of people over [to the SPCA] for a few hours to work with the dogs and to help out with whatever they need. So after a few months the members at the unit wanted to have a station dog.”

Since May, the coast guard station has hosted a rotating cast of 10 homeless dogs, giving the pups the skills and publicity they need to get adopted. “The dogs stay at the station at all times, and once we take on a dog, we will never take him back to the shelter unless he needs any medical work,” Thomas stressed. “We are very dedicated to them and all we want to do is give them a good home.”

The program has worked out well for both the dogs and the hardworking men and women serving at the station. “The thought that we can take one dog out of that environment at a time, and work with it, to assist a dog getting adopted was a great idea,” Thomas said. “Everyone here is getting their dog fix and helping make room for another at the shelter.”

The dogs keep morale high, and get plenty of love and treats in return. For many dogs, the station, which is manned 24 hours a day, is their first taste of a loving home. “The dog can’t go through a room without 15 different people loving on them, so it’s easy to see how much they are loved and how they make everyone truly happy,” Thomas added.

coast guard and dog sleep
Michael Thomas

The rescues under the care and training of the coast guard have gone on to be loyal family pets and even service dogs. Bonds form quickly with the dogs, and the coast guard keeps in touch with all their graduates.

Hopes are high for the adoption of their 10th dog, Baylie, a hound mix with striking blue eyes who loves snuggles and belly rubs, Thomas added.

“When they get adopted, it’s a great day, but it hurts to let them go each time.”

Follow the NOLA Coast Guard on Facebook to stay up-to-date on dogs available for adoption.