Dog owners urged to take the lead on cliff safety

Firefighter rescuing a dog from a cliff side sink hole.
Firefighter rescuing a dog from a cliff side sink hole.

Firefighters are urging dog walkers to be extra careful when exercising their pets on the cliff tops.

The warning from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service comes after a number of incidents in which fire crews have had to rescue dogs that had fallen down cliff sides in the area.

The most recent incident involved two specialist rope rescue crews from South Shields Community Fire Station called to the cliffs at Whitburn after reports that a dog had fallen into a large sink hole at the cliff edge.

Station Manager Adrian Jackson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Obviously these areas are very popular with dog walkers and we do not want to spoil anybody’s enjoyment of the coastline. All we are asking is that people keep their pets on a lead if they are going to be anywhere near the edge of cliffs.

"“Fortunately, none of the animals have been lost or seriously injured as a consequence of these falls. However, given the increase in the number of these types of incidents, we would urge pet owners to think carefully about the dangers when exercising their pets in the area.”

Eric Wilton, General Manger for National Trust’s South of Tyne property group, said: “We welcome dog walkers to the coast at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas. It’s a very popular place to come for fresh air and fantastic views. We want all of our visitors to have an enjoyable, relaxed and safe visit.

“By its nature the coastline is constantly changing, with some areas particularly prone to erosion and landslips. There are warning signs at key points along the cliff edges, as well as visitor information panels in each car park. We’d urge people to take a moment to take a look at these to help keep themselves and their children and dogs safe.”