Army Recreation Center keeps canine companions safe on the water

Published online: Feb 02, 2011 News Katy Houghton - www.thedestinlog.com
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With spring break and warmer weather just around the corner, some avid boaters are just "begging" to get out on the water. These four-legged first mates aren't an uncommon site to see aboard the vessels of their human owners, but when spotted sporting a life jacket, or personal floatation device (PFD), they have been known to turn a few heads.

"I didn't know there was such a thing," said Linda West about the canine PFD. "I thought it was so cute, though."

In August, West and her family rented a pontoon boat from the Destin Army Recreation Center for a day of touring around the bay. The recreation center provided a PFD for everyone aboard, including Brentley, her 18 month-old Yorkshire terrier.

As well as being adorable, West said the PFD made her feel better about bringing her pet along.

"You can never be too safe. There are lots of people out there, and you never know what might happen."

The Army Recreation Center started offering canine PFD's in 2007.

"Since we require people on boats to have a PFD, we thought why not keep our pets safe as well?" said Bill Moore, business manager at the center. "About 30 percent of our property is pet friendly."

Guests of the recreation center who rent a boat package and plan to bring Fido along are provided with a PFD for their companion free of charge. The canine PFD's aren't a requirement, but the center still fits the pets with the appropriate size.

"Most people don't think they can bring their dogs out with them on the boats," said Moore. "We want people to be able to do that and also keep their families safe, including their dogs."

Like a dog on land that sees a squirrel and darts after it, Moore says he has seen the same behavior in dogs on boats.

"They might see a dolphin and run off the side of the boat thinking they can walk on water."

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