Keep Bilbo on the Beach
Campaigners fighting to bring Bilbo the life saving dog back to Sennen beach, are taking their plight to Downing street. The much loved newfoundland, owned by an RNLI lifeguard, was banned from the beach earlier this year in line with all other dogs.
Instead Penwith Council allowed him to patrol with the RNLI twice a week to promote sea safety. Now nearly 300 have signed a petition to bring him back full time. It will eventually be presented at Number 10.
BBC Radio Cornwall's Matt Pengelly spoke to David Wilkinson who helped start the petition:
This summer 2008, Bilbo has not had the easiest of times, since he has largely been denied being able to do what he is best at, that of being a working beach rescue dog in Far West Cornwall, at Sennen Cove beach.
Bilbo is trained to save lives
Nonetheless he has worked tirelessly in others things as he does every year: Bilbo has attended a diary full of school and charity events, over 50 in fact, with his owner, Head Lifeguard, Steve Jamieson, and together they have imparted the message of how to stay safer in the sea and at the beach.
The RNLI says Bilbo's educational role in schools and twice a week on Sennen beach has complemented the RNLI's team of highly trained lifeguards who patrol Sennen beach throughout the summer season.
Bilbo's has become a celebrity in his own right and his popularity is naturally growing. At Culdrose Air Day he was a star; at Newlyn Fish festival he was celebrity of the day; The Rotary club voted Bilbo 'Dog of the Year' at Hayle; At Malpas Regatta Bilbo was highly praised for his lifesaving skills; at the Newlyn to Penzance Yacht Inn 1 mile Swim, Bilbo achieved a personal best of 30 mins (beating last year’s time by 1minn 30 secs);
Bilbo has also taken part in a photoshoot to promote the Air Ambulance helicopter, raising awareness and funds for the Air Ambulance Trust; and not to mention, nationally on BBC prime time TV Bilbo was voted 'Working Dog of the Day' at Crufts 2008, by Ben Fogel and Claire Balding.
Bilbo the lifeguard dog
Bilbo purely has a message to impart which is simple and effective and can save lives, and at a minimum Bilbo engages the interest of children and adults alike and brings a genuine smile and good feeling.
In 2009 Bilbo may once again find himself being quietly asked to disappear from his dutiful role as lifeguard at the beach. Perhaps he’ll be hounded out, who knows! That’s why Bilbo needs the support of the people in the country who believe in him and what he can do. His unique talent and sheer canine skill at life saving in the sea does need to be officially recognised and celebrated.
Do you think Bilbo should be allowed back on the beach?
I have a great deal of respect for the men and women of the RNLI who give their time, and risk their lives to save people at sea, be they volunteer lifeboat crews or professional beach lifeguards. However, this event has destroyed my faith in the RNLI as an organisation. As a charity that depends on public donation, they should be looking at this as a heaven sent opportunity for positive PR, instead, they have succeeded in turning away many previously loyal supporters such as myself. Until Bilbo is properly recognised and valued for the positive message he can put across, my 'lose change' will go into a different collecting box on the bar!
Martyn from Truro
An exceptional dog doing an exceptional job!!
Vanessa from Mansfield
I definitely think Bilbo is a necessity on the beach. Why not use him and his talents to save lives and to make a difference in water safety promotion? He certainly looks strong enough, that is what these breeds are for... working.
Anna from the USA
Of course he should, He has already proved his ability. Perhaps local councilors would like to take his place instead! I think not!!
Alec from Tintagel
Yes definitely - he should be allowed on the beaches as he does a great job and makes children take an interest in water safety and the flags. I must admit that general dog walking should be banned from beaches in summer especially Perranporth. They are a nuisance, running everywhere and using the place like an toilet. Children play in the small pools, not knowing that a dog has just had a wee in it, then their parents wonder why they are ill later. Dog owners say they clean up but they can't clean up wee in water or sand!!! Bilbo is great and cannot be compared in anyway to "normal dog walking on the beach."
Megan from Leigh
Of course he should - he is a working dog playing a vital role in safety on the beach. Do the Council also ban guide dogs and other dogs who assist their owners?
L Turney from Liskeard
Yes definitely - if the RNLI think he is helpful. The council shouldn't worry that one dog sets a precedent, and of course his owners would take care of him. A good dog all round.
David from Exeter
Yes, Bilbo should definitely be allowed back on the beach. If he can make just one or two children think twice about safety in the water, then he is worth it. Send the jobsworths packing! Have signed his petition.
Kath from New Mills
last updated: 11/11/2008 at 14:52