Vernon couple warns dog owners to stay away from moving water after close call

Sign at BX Ranch Dog Park.
Image Credit: Contributed


VERNON - A Vernon couple is warning other pet owners to be vigilant around local creeks after almost losing their dog — and risking their own safety to save her earlier this week.

Sarah Vincent and Vince Spoor were on a hike at the BX Ranch Dog Park on Tuesday, May 9, with their border collie cross Ripley. Like most streams in the Okanagan right now, BX Creek is running fast and high, fuelled by spring runoff and rain.

The couple purposefully avoided the most hazardous portion of the creek, but on the way back Ripley bounded off, as usual, toward a certain spot on the river. Vincent, who had been keeping a close eye on Ripley during the hike and calling her away from the water, admits she got distracted for a second, and it was just long enough for the three-year-old dog to get pulled into the creek.

Ripley, Sarah and Vince's dog.
Ripley, Sarah and Vince's dog.
Image Credit: Sarah Vincent

Spoor was closest and quickly assessed the situation.

“I made a mental note about my safety. You don’t want to put others at risk saving you,” he says.

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The area was partially blocked off by a cement barrier that slowed the flow of water, which made Spoor more confident.

“I jumped in and grabbed her by the collar,” Spoor says. 

At 6’2”, Spoor was up to his chest in muddy, brown water. Clutching Ripley, he began making his way back to the edge of the creek.

“Fighting the current was really difficult,” he says.

Meanwhile, Vincent could see they were in a bad situation. 

“I screamed at the top of my lungs,” Vincent, who has experience in white water rafting and rescue, says. “It (creek) looked like this horrible torrent.”

She entered the water and Spoor passed Ripley to her. Working together, they were all able to get out safely — albeit with some cuts and bruises. Both were shaken by the ordeal. 

“If it were me alone and she took off and I’d have gone in, I don’t think I’d have been able to save her or myself,” Vincent says.

A sign posted at the dog park paints a more somber picture: "Warning two dogs drowned on May 9."

“I feel very lucky but I feel terrible for the people that did not get lucky like we did,” Vincent says.

Spoor and Vincent believe the park should be closed to the public until water levels go down. Earlier this week, the North Okanagan Regional District closed a portion of BX Creek Trail between Star Road and Tillicum road due to hazardous conditions.  

“Don’t go there,” Vincent says, adding that even if your dog comes when called, it just takes one moment of distraction for things to go awry. “There are other dog parks you can go to.”

Vince Spoor and Sarah Vincent jumped into BX Creek to rescue their dog Ripley. They're warning others to avoid the scary situation altogether.
Vince Spoor and Sarah Vincent jumped into BX Creek to rescue their dog Ripley. They're warning others to avoid the scary situation altogether.
Image Credit: Vince Spoor

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