Broads diver who found drowned dog makes life jacket plea

Sean Fizeman and Tasha the dog.

Tasha the Staffordshire bull terrier (right) fell into the Norfolk Broads on Saturday morning. Diver Sean Fizeman retrieved Tasha's body on Tuesday. - Credit: Supplied

"Please remember to put life jackets on your dogs."

That is the plea from the diver who recovered the body of a Staffordshire bull terrier from the Norfolk Broads near Sutton Staithe on Tuesday.

Sean Fizeland, 41, and from Wroxham, dives in his spare time and is the chairman of the diving club, East Anglian Branch 11.

On Monday night, Mr Fizeland received a call from a nearby diving shop, asking whether he could help find a dog which had entered the Broads on Saturday morning.

Sean Fizeman in a wetsuit.

Sean Fizeman is also the chairman of the East Anglian Branch 11 diver's group. - Credit: Supplied

At around 7.30am the following day, Mr Fizeland entered the Broads near where Tasha the dog was last seen by her owners, Linda and Pete Langridge.

The Langridges were on holiday from York with Ms Langridge's sister, Julie Scaum. They were getting back on the boat when Mr Langridge, 72, slipped and Tasha fell into the water.

Boat on the Broads

The boat which Linda and Pete Langridge had been sailing on the Broads. - Credit: Courtesy of Julie Scaum

"When he realised what had happened, the dog was swimming away from him," Ms Scaum said.

Mr Fizeland was able to find Tasha's body and returned it to shore.

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"It's probably the most upsetting search I have ever done," he said.

"To be searching for a deceased animal is quite an upsetting thing."

Mr Fizeland said as he and his partner, Ellia, are dog owners, it "was very emotional". 

"Me and my partner treat our dog as if he were our little boy," Mr Fizeland said.

Ms Scaum said she "couldn't thank Sean enough" for his help in retrieving Tasha's corpse.

Linda and Pete Langridge, from York

Linda and Pete Langridge, from York, have been travelling on the Broads. - Credit: Courtesy of Julie Scaum

Mr Fizeland said: "If we can learn anything from this, it is that it would have been a different story if the dog had had a life jacket on."

A Broads Authority spokesperson said: "We are very sorry to hear about the passing of Tasha and hope that her family now has some closure following the recovery of her body.

“This unfortunate incident highlights just how important it is for dogs to be fitted with life jackets as well as the crew if you are boating or enjoying water sports.

"Dog life jackets can be bought inexpensively online or from local suppliers, and many boat yards will also hire them for the duration of your trip."

Tasha, a Staffordhshire bull terrier

Tasha, a Staffordhshire bull terrier, drowned in the Broads at Sutton Staithe on April 23. - Credit: Courtesy of Julie Scaum

Water safety for dogs

The Broads Authority have guidance for keeping your dog safe while near open water.

The Broads Authority said: "Choosing a life jacket that is a bright colour will increases visibility if your dog does enter the water, and handles can allow them to be retrieved more quickly back onto the vessel.

“If your dog does accidentally enter the water, we advise that you follow the same steps as you would do if it was a person overboard:

"Keep sight of them, bring the vessel around and cut the engine when close, taking care not to reverse the sharp propeller towards them.

"Fight the urge to enter the water immediately as it may not be safe to do so. Instead, stop to assess the situation and seek to recover them safely.

“If you believe your pet has ingested water, take them to a vet as soon as possible for assessment to reduce the risk of secondary drowning or other complications.”