A MAN and his blind dog have been saved in a dramatic rescue.

Lifeboat crews and a coastguard helicopter rushed to Lepe beach yesterday afternoon after reports of a man and a dog in difficulties in the water.

A spokesman for Cowes RNLI lifeboat said a man tried to rescue his four-legged friend in strong currents off the popular Lepe beach between Beaulieu River and Calshot.

The man, whose identity has not been revealed, was saved by a kayaker.

Meanwhile, a helicopter crew saved his dog.

Lifeboat helm Mark Harker said: “Eventually he was pinpointed by the hovering Lee-on-Solent helicopter, some 200 metres offshore. When we got near him I jumped into the sea and pulled him to the boat to be hauled aboard. By that time the dog, called Fly, was very tired and could not have lasted much longer.”

Fly, a small Collie-type dog is said to be blind because of cataracts.

A resident who was at Lepe beach with her family and did not want to be named, said: “It was quite dramatic. Firstly we just saw the helicopter circling around.Then people were trying to move cars around to let the ambulance come in. It was busy. People looked quite worried. Nobody knew what was going on. I was anxious, I thought someone was drowning I was just hoping they were able to rescue whoever was in trouble.”

After re-uniting the dog with his owner the lifeboat went offshore again to pick up a paramedic, lowered from the helicopter. He was then taken to the beach to carry out an assessment of the dog’s owner.

Nobody was injured nor was taken to hospital.

The incident happened shortly after 2pm.

A spokesperson for Maritime&Coastguard Agency said: “Southampton Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT), Lymington CRT, a Coastguard rescue helicopter, Cowes RNLI LB and South Central Ambulance were tasked to the scene, however a member of the public had recovered the person safely ashore. It seems the casualty had gone into the water after a dog. The dog is also safe and dry.”