Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 12:50 UK

Lifeguard dog banned from beach

Bilbo has been credited with helping swimmers

Bilbo, Britain's only lifeguard dog, who patrols Sennen in west Cornwall will no longer be seen on duty.

The RNLI has taken over beach safety at Sennen from Penwith District Council this year.

And it says the 14-stone Newfoundland will be unable to patrol as a lifeguard because of a dog ban on the beach.

Bilbo's owner said the decision to keep a lifesaving asset off the beach was a "scandal", but Penwith council is backing the RNLI.

He is the biggest asset for beach safety and for the RNLI to disown him is a scandal
Steve "Jamo" Jamieson
Bilbo has been part of the lifeguard team at Sennen for the past three years and has been praised for helping to prevent a swimmer getting into difficulties.

But his owner, Steve "Jamo" Jamieson, 53, has been told by the RNLI that a concession which got Bilbo round a beach ban, was no longer acceptable for safety reasons.

Bilbo had been allowed to carry out his life guarding duties in the past because he had been carried on an all terrain bike (ATB) when he was not at the lifeguard hut or in the sea.

Now that the RNLI has taken over life guarding duties, it is not allowing him on their ATBs.

Rebecca Kirk, chief environmental officer at the council, told BBC News: "If he is on the beach it is against the law.

"It puts us in a really difficult position, but we have to be consistent."

Bilbo has been carried on ATBs to get round the ban in the past
Bilbo is not classed as a working dog, so if he goes on the beach, owner Jamo faces a 75 fine.

Jamo said: "I was dumbstruck when I was told.

"He is the biggest asset for beach safety and for the RNLI to disown him is a scandal."

Steve Instance, the RNLI's lifeguard inspector the South West said: "We have been as flexible as possible.

"But ATBs are for one person only and if a dog is 14 stone he is a passenger and that is simply not safe.

"We are not simply sticking to the rules for the sake of it. There are a lot of accidents on ATBs."

He added: "Bilbo is a fantastic asset and we have told Jamo he can use him for PR work and safety education in schools.

"But it is not suitable for the RNLI to have him as an operational lifeguard.

Beach rescue dog alerts swimmer
23 Aug 07 |  Cornwall

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