Puppy found alive on beach after fishing boat capsizes near Kodiak Island

A Coast Guard officer reaches out to a black dog on a beach.
Petty Officer Rafael Aguero recovers 8-month-old puppy Grace. (Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

A fishing boat capsized Monday morning after hitting rocks near Sitkalidak Island, off the southeast shore of Kodiak Island, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The four people aboard the 93-foot trawler were to evacuate on a life raft. But their puppy, an eight-month-old lab mix named Grace, jumped into the freezing water.

A Coast Guard helicopter rescued the crew and swept the area for Grace, but she couldn’t be found.

Then, the next day, another Coast Guard helicopter crew searched the area for evidence of a fuel spill from the boat, the F/V Laura. They still held a shred of hope that Grace might be alive, said Petty Officer Rafael Aguero, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer.

And there she was, on a nearby beach.

Aguero said Grace was on “a narrow beach with about 20- to 40-foot cliffs all around her.”

“I was able to find a way to sort of scramble down that cliff to grab her,” Aguero said. “She was definitely in a little bit of a shock. Definitely hypothermic. So I looked up to her, and I knew she was going to be okay. She wagged her tail a little bit. And then I went, picked her up and scrambled back up the cliffs back to the helicopter.”

Aguero said he and the crew were amazed to find her unharmed.

“To go through those conditions and spend 36 hours alone in the wilderness like that on the beach with the cold, and she was otherwise okay, from what I can tell,” he said. “It’s absolutely incredible that we found that dog.”

Grace was reunited with her owner at Air Station Kodiak around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. And she’s doing just fine.

The ship hasn’t fared as well. The wreck is still on the rocks, and according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, a five-mile oil sheen has been sighted about a mile from where it got beached.

Spill responders say they are monitoring the situation. The vessel’s owner estimates there were about 3,000 gallons of diesel aboard.

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