‘It’s heartbreaking’: Island man reunited with dogs after boat rescue; one still missing

'It's heartbreaking': Island man reunited with dogs after boat rescue; one still missing

A Vancouver Island man has reunited with two of his dogs after the U.S. Coast Guard rescued him Wednesday, but the search for his third dog continues.

Brandon Blackburn was onboard his sailboat near Mystic Beach along the Juan De Fuca trail when it lost power, sending him and his three dogs overboard.

Early in the morning on Dec. 28, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew received the call and quickly found Blackburn’s sunken boat.

He actually got our attention by shining, I think it was a cell phone flashlight at us. And so we got up closer, we shine the flash or the spotlight on them, we realized that his boat was pretty much sunk and it was getting smashed against a few rocks, so he was not in a good situation,” said Petty Officer Austen Marshall.

Blackburn swam to shore, where he was hoisted onboard the helicopter along with one of his dogs, Rocky.

A second dog, Sandy, wasn’t found until the following day when Marshall explored what he initially thought was seaweed.

Then I saw something pink and I was like,I think that’s a dog’s tongue,’ and then it moved and I was like, ‘that’s definitely a dog,'” Marshall said.

Blackburn was sent to the hospital but quickly released, while Rocky and Sandy were both taken to Victoria Animal Control Services.

“I’m just glad to see these two, I haven’t seen them for a few days. It’s heartbreaking,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn lost his wallet, IDs and personal belongings in the devastating incident. Thanks to community donations and the Red Cross, he received cash and clothes and is currently being put up in a hotel for four days.

But he’s still missing his third dog, Ferrari, a 10-year-old male Rottweiler.

“I just hope Ferrari turns up soon ’cause we’re a pack. We’re always together,” said the owner.

He planned on taking his three dogs on a month-and-a-half-long adventure to Mexico before losing everything.

The clock is now ticking for Blackburn, who says he only has four days to find Ferrari before heading home to his family in Alberta. Multiple search teams from ROAM (Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing) have scoured the areas near Mystic Beach, but with no luck.

“I’m hoping that he turns up in the next few days,” added Blackburn.

ROAM believes Ferrari is still in the Mystic Beach area but could be near Shirley Beach, China Beach, or Sooke. They’re asking the public to contact the organization by phone at 778-977-6260 or 778-977-6265 or Blackburn directly if spotting the dog.

To help him get back on his feet, Blackburn’s family has set up a GoFundMe for him.

-With files from CHEK’s Laura Brougham

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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