A three-year-old Labrador called Mali had a lucky escape thanks to coastguard rescuers this afternoon after getting into difficulty in the water.

The Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team was called out around 4.30pm today to reports of a dog in difficulty in the water near Irvine Harbour.

Given the location of the incident, Troon Lifeboat was also requested to launch their Inshore Rescue Boat to proceed to Irvine to assist.

The team located the dog owners at the edge of the River Garnock advising Mali had entered the water and after chasing some ducks then tried to swim across the river to the opposite river bank.

Due to the on-scene weather and tidal conditions, Mali the Labrador didn’t manage to make it to the other side and had disappeared, being taken down river towards the harbour area and out of sight. When the team arrived on scene with the owners, they had not seen Mali for a significant period of time.

A short time thereafter, Belfast Coastguard received a second 999 call from a member of the public to report they had found a very soggy but excitable Labrador with a purple collar further down river and were walking back towards the clubhouse of the nearby golf course with the dog.

After quickly confirming the missing Mali did indeed have a purple collar, the dog owners were updated by the team on-scene that she had been found safe and well. The relieved dog owners and the team have then trekked back across the open ground to where the Coastguard Rescue Vehicles were located and then proceeded back to the clubhouse.

A very emotional reunion then took place as a wet but happy and excitable Mali was safely handed back into the care of her owners.

Station Officer Kevin Paterson, said: “In this instance the dog owners done the correct thing – they resisted the natural temptation to enter the water to try and rescue Mali and they dialled 999 and asked for the Coastguard.

“It’s an extremely emotive subject and we fully appreciate people may be tempted to enter the water to try and rescue their dog. Tragically however, there has been incidents around the country where the dog has managed to return to shore, but the owners haven’t.

“We always urge people not to place themselves in any danger if their dog gets into difficulty in the water when at the coast and to always dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard as soon as you realise your dog is at risk or in any difficulty.”

“Thankfully Mali was reunited with her owners safe and well and everyone, including the team, were able to breathe a sigh of relief and return home.”