During the hot summer weather, it's tempting to cool off while enjoying a boat trip on your favorite lake, river, or patch of beautiful coastline, and you may even decide to take your family pet along for the ride. However, one St. Petersburg, Florida, dog and her pet parents are determined to warn others of the dangers of boating.
Just three weeks ago, Maddie Belle, a 14-month-old silver Labrador, was enjoying a trip on her pet parents' boat. Having headed out for a tubing adventure with friends, the dog's pet parents, Mary Griffen and Gregg Marrocco, thought nothing of taking their beloved pup along with them. Although Maddie Belle had been on the boat some two dozen times before without incident, this trip was different. Not long into the journey, the couple heard a noise; something had hit the boat's propeller. Panic set in as Maddie Belle, who had been sitting on the bow overlooking the water, was nowhere to be seen.
Shutting off the motor, Mary and Gregg spied their pet bobbing in the water, motionless after being hit by the spinning propeller. They knew time was of the essence, and rescued Maddie Belle from the water as quickly as they could. Thirty minutes later, Maddie Belle was undergoing surgery. She had suffered a deep wound around her snout, water in her lungs, and needed surgery to reconstruct her jaw. Despite appearances, Maddie Belle was soon on her feet again. Following her ordeal, Mary and Gregg have dubbed their dog "Rocky Balboa."
It is believed the pup took a dive from the boat's bow after spotting a bobber that was attached to a crab cage, which must have looked like a ball to the curious dog. While Maddie Belle's injuries will heal, and her experience doesn’t appear to have left her with any emotional scars, her pet parents want those with dogs to be super-vigilant when heading out onto the water. Whenever possible, ensure your furry friend is equipped with a doggie lifejacket, always keep him leashed when the boat is moving, and never allow the pup to occupy the bow – particularly on their own.
We want pet parents and their four-legged companions to enjoy the summer, but please do be aware that accidents can happen. It doesn't matter how many times your pet has accompanied you on a boat; always maintain vigilance.