A DOG walker's trip to the seaside today ended in a full-scale RNLI lifeboat turnout when the pet swam out to sea after her favourite ball.

Molly the English bull terrier and her owner were visiting Redcar beach from Norton, Stockton when the pet ran into the sea after a ball.

As the wind and tide carried the ball further and further out to sea, Molly set off in determined pursuit and soon ended a long distance from the beach near the boating lake at Coatham.

Her worried owner raised the alarm by calling the coastguard and the Redcar RNLI lifeboat was launched with volunteer helmsman Mark Reeves in charge.

Mr Reeves said: "We are usually called out to rescue humans, but this isn't the first time we've been asked to rescue a dog.

"I have a dog myself so I can understand how Molly's owner must have been feeling and we're glad to help out."

The lifeboat first recovered the dog's ball to stop it drifting further out and then Molly was shepherded by the lifeboat back to the beach at Coatham where her relieved owner was waiting.

Dave Cocks, Deputy Launching Authority at Redcar RNLI said, "The greatest danger in these circumstances is that the owner tries to rescue their dog and then get into difficulties. That's why the RNLI responses to these calls.

"In 999 times out of 1,000 the dog manages to get back to shore unharmed, but there are many examples of pet owners losing their lives while trying to carry out a rescue."