- The Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs (Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, or SICS) trains canines to be extraordinary lifeguards.
- So far, the group has rescued an average of 20-30 lives yearly.
- Training centers for canine lifeguards in other countries, including the US, are in progress.
Italy brags about its elite squadron of 350 specially-trained canines who save lives underwater.
The dogs are from the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs (Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, or SICS), and 30 of the country’s busiest beaches are on their guards.
These lifeguards are not your ordinary pups — they can leap from helicopters into the surf below to rescue at-risk swimmers. So far, they have saved an average of 20-30 lives in a year, which even shows an uptrend.
“He pulled a water-filled dinghy with three people on board for half an hour,” Ferruccio told The Times of London. “A human cannot do that.”
SICS gives the dogs tedious trainings and makes sure only fully-ready dogs who completed the required steps would proceed with learning lifesaving techniques, such as jumping from helicopters and leaping from speeding boats.
“To be able to use a dog in a water rescue mission gives the rescuer a leg up. The rescuer who operates on his own is alone. We are never alone. We are always in a team with our dog so it’s a six-legged unit. I can conserve my energy and become a more effective rescuer,” Ferruccio told Great Big Story.
“To make [people] understand, I always say, ‘To pull a sled, it takes at least six dogs, to pull six people, you only need one dog.’”
The dogs’ survival instincts aren’t the only thing that makes them super lifeguards. Ferruccio believes that they bring a kind of emotional support that makes all the difference.
“The presence of the dogs helps to lighten up the situation. The biggest reward is the emotion that the dog and the owner feel at the moment of the rescue, which further unites that special bond between dog and human,” he said.
Currently, Italy is the only country with certified canine lifeguards, but training centers for dogs in the US, Germany, Switzerland and Azores are underway.
In no time, a number of mighty canines would be saving drowning victims across the world.