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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Seal saves drowning dog
Seal
Hundreds of seals live on the North East coast
A "guardian angel" in the form of a seal has come to the rescue of a dog who was close to drowning in the River Tees.

The 10-year-old labrador-German shepherd cross had fallen into the river at Middlesbrough and could not get out.

As the dog's head began to sink under the water, onlookers saw a seal appear and nudge it to safety.

The seal pushed the dog onto the shore and watched with two other seals as the dog was helped by fire crews.


I have never seen anything like it in my life

Chris Hinds, eyewitness

The rescue happened at 1800 BST on Tuesday, near Newport Bridge in Middlesbrough.

Eyewitness Chris Hinds, 43, said: "It was just like the dog had a guardian angel.

Mr Hinds was with his 18-year-old son, Raymond, when they spotted the injured animal, which had a cut on its head.

"I initially reached in to get hold of him but when he saw me he panicked.

"I saw him going across the Tees from the Middlesbrough side to the Stockton side.

Confused dog

"He was an old dog and struggling.

"I thought 'this dog is going to die'. There was no way I could get in to rescue him.

"Just then a seal popped up out of nowhere. He came behind it and actually pushed him.

"I have never seen anything like it in my life.

"This dog would not have survived in the water if it hadn't been for that seal."

Fire crews were called to the scene by Mr Hinds' son and helped capture the confused dog.

Sub-officer Mark Baxter, of Stockton fire station said: "It is one of the strangest things I have ever heard.

"By the time we arrived the dog was on dry land and there were three seals bobbing in the water keeping an eye on him."

The dog was handed over to the RSPCA until its owner could be contacted.


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