By Jake Lanning, West Bay coastguard

WITH four cliff rescues involving dogs taking place on our little stretch of coastline this month, I think we need to take a closer look into behaviours and why these incidents are happening in the first place.

Coming from a city environment where green space is fairly non-existent, I know first hand the joy of being able to let my dog off its lead to run, play, chase, sniff and generally be a dog.

But if you transfer this well-intentioned behaviour into a coastal setting, that’s when we start running into trouble… literally.

The overwhelming new smells from a strange environment can send a dog’s senses into overdrive, as they explore the exciting adventure playground they have just been introduced to.

While it is satisfying to see our dogs have so much fun, our first thought may not have been the hidden dangers of cliff edge hedgerows, deep gullies, blind ledges, cattle, sheep, rabbit holes, and it is this that has killed one of the four dogs, and seriously injured another.

Reaction on social media has been mostly of sympathy, but also some strong criticism of the owners for not having their dogs under control in the first place. It is worth noting at this stage that it is not just visitors to the area who are finding themselves in difficulty, a large proportion of dogs we rescue are from local owners, so a greater all-round awareness and education is the key to preventing these incidents from taking place.

Advice from the coastguard remains clear. Always keep your dog on a lead when on the cliffs and, if the unthinkable happens, DO NOT attempt rescue. Instead dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.

For more information on keeping yourself and your four-legged friends safe, visit