Virginia Marine Police Officer Terrie McKellips comforts Skip Jack after pulling the puppy from the water. Photo courtesy of Virginia Marine Police

Retriever Puppy Swept Away from Beach, Rescued by Marine Police

What could be more fun than taking a water-loving puppy to the beach?  You can play fetch in the water and watch your dog dig furiously in the warm sand. However, dogs can get into trouble around the water, as Kristin Vonclein quickly learned when she took her pup to a beach near the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

Vonclein went to the private beach with her adorable little Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Skip Jack. The puppy had been to the beach before without any problems. But this time, the dog raced into the water and started swimming away. It happened in an instant.    

Vonclein and a friend went into the water after the pup, but soon realized the current was strong. The water got deeper. The dog kept swimming away. They might be putting their own lives at risk. They wisely returned to the beach, grabbed a flotation device, and continued to look for the dog. Sadly, they lost sight of Skip Jack being swept toward the Chesapeake Bay. They looked and called and looked without success.  Vonclein called 911, and was put in touch with Marine Patrol Officers Kyle Jones and Terrie McKellips.  

Skip Jack, the rescued pup, gets a new life preserver.
Photo: Virginia Marine Police

Fortunately, the officers were already on a boat at a nearby marina.  They set out immediately.  According to Officer McKellips, “There was a little chop. And the area was filled with crab pot buoys, so it was a challenge to look for a small brown dog’s head. Also, the dog had been in the water for close to two hours, so it would be exhausted if still alive. We started a grid search. Then, right off the bow, I saw a brown nose. It was the puppy! The dog was so tired it was barely holding its nose above the water. The rest of the dog was submerged.  I don’t know how we were able to see it,” she said.  McKellips and Jones were beyond stunned at their good fortune. 

They brought the pup into their boat. The dog collapsed onto the deck, exhausted but alive. Skip Jack was reunited with Vonclein who took the pup to the vet.  Other than fatigue and some sore muscles, Skip Jack was fine.

McKellips  and her office were so moved by the experience that they chipped in and bought a flotation device for Skip Jack. It would be the perfect gift for both Vonclein and the pup. Everyone in the office signed the flotation device, and invited Vonclein to the office to get it. According to McKellips, “It was simply wonderful, and everyone was touched. Vonclein was so thankful, and the dog was full of energy as a puppy should be.” It was a close call and a learning experience with a very happy ending.

Kendall Osborne