When Chris Hinds was out walking his dogs along with his son one day, he saw a sight that he will never forget. Near the bank of the River Tees in Newport Bridge, Middlesbrough (UK), Chris saw a Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd mix dog struggling to get out of the water. When he went over to help, the dog panicked and slipped away from the shoreline. As the frightened canine continued to struggle, he was swept further away by the fast-flowing tide.
Chris sent his son back to call the fire department as well as to contact the RSPCA from his cell phone in his car. Chris followed the dog on land as he traveled down the river. As the dog yelped in fear and went under the water, Chris saw a seal's head pop out of the water. The seal circled the animal and began to push him towards the shore.
"I just couldn't believe what was happening in front of my eyes," said Chris. "It was truly amazing. I thought the dog would die because there was nothing I could do to get to him. It only took a matter of seconds for the seal to save the dog."
After the Common Seal (aka Harbor Seal in the US) pushed the dog to shore, Chris was able to pull the animal to safety. The collarless, elderly dog had a gash on his head as well as an injured rear leg. When the fire crews arrived, they saw three seals bobbing in the water, keeping an eye on the dog.
"Common seals are instinctively protective animals and, unlike Grey seals, are rarely aggressive," says Dominic Waddell, an expert in seal behavior and Senior Aquarist at the Scarborough's Sealife and Marine Sanctuary.
The 10-year-old dog was handed over to the RSPCA until his owner could be located.