A senior lifeguard preparing for the upcoming summer season had to put his skills to use earlier than expected when he rescued a dog from the Bethells Beach surf.

While at a training drill on Saturday, Zane Rademaker saw a family crossing the estuary with three dogs.

As a surging wave swept over the group, they managed to scoop up the smallest dog, but another, possibly an American pitbull, struggled to keep its head above the knee-to-waist deep water.

Rademaker said the wave was "unfortunate timing".


"It was really big surf on that day. You don't normally get a lot of surf up there."

Without hesistating the 24-year-old ran to help.

He plucked the dog from the surf and checked its vitals. It wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse, so Rademaker began CPR.

He administered the chest compressions and the dog's owner breathed into its mouth. After a few cycles the dog was breathing on its own.

The owners rushed the dog to the vet.

Saturday's rescue mission was the first time in the seven years he had been a lifeguard that Rademaker had to save an animal from drowning, but have does have experience in land-based animal rescues.

He has a pet bunny. "It's a stray that I found. I kind of just took him in."

The self-confessed animal lover said he would like to know whether the dog and its owners were alright.

"Hopefully it was a positive ending," Rademaker said.

His safety message for beachgoers was: "If you've got a dog and you see waves knee or waist high, just remember - they may not be big for you, but they might be huge for the dog".

Chief executive of Surf Life Saving Northern Region Matt Williams said the dog and its owner were lucky Rademaker had been in the right place at the right time.

The incident was a timely reminder for beachgoers to be extra careful at waterways when lifeguards were not on duty, he said.

"If you do seem someone in danger please dial 111 and ask for the police."

The official surf life saving season begins on October 22, the Saturday of Labour weekend.

Surf living savers' tips to keep you safe this summer:

• Choose a patrolled beach and swim between the flags

• Always keep a close eye on kids in or near the water - at surf beaches stay in the water with them

• Know your limits - don't overestimate you or your kids' ability to cope in the conditions

• Never swim or surf alone, go with a friend

• Watch out for rips - Look for calm, deep patches of water or rippled, discoloured or foamy water close to shore. Some rips have waves breaking either side

• Be careful near rocks - whether you're fishing or just exploring don't stand or sit on wet rocks, face the ocean and never turn your back to the sea.

• Wear a lifejacket when fishing off rocks.

• If you're away from home, ask the locals about the conditions and the safest place to swim

• If in doubt, stay out!

• If you spot someone in trouble at an unpatrolled beach, make sure you stay safe and phone police on 111.