Man with dogs when boat starts sinking. He bravely holds them for nearly an hour until help arrives

He had the choice of either abandoning his dogs and swimming to shore to save himself or waiting in the lake with them and trying to call for help
July 10, 2018 2:01 pm Last Updated: July 10, 2018 2:01 pm

We’d do anything for our pets. At least, that’s what most of us would like to believe.

However, thankfully, we’re often not put into the position to really test whether we’d go all the way for our furry little friends.

Unfortunately, one Louisiana man wasn’t so lucky. As his boat began to sink in the middle of a lake, he knew that his two dogs would be in serious trouble—but the way he decided to keep them safe was both inspiring and adorable.

Christopher Burns had a serious problem when he was out on the lake.

(Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Late afternoon on June 18, Bossier Parish, Louisiana, resident Christopher Burns was on his boat on Lake Bisteneau. Accompanying him were his two beloved dogs, Saint and Tacoma.

It was supposed to be an enjoyable boat ride for the 33-year-old with his pets, but things turned bad very quickly when his boat began to sink. In fact, the speed at which the boat submerged must have taken him by surprise—before long, it was completely underwater. 

“It was within two to three seconds, the boat was completely under water,” Burns told the Shreveport Times.

“It was scary,” he later said in a video posted to Facebook by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.

However, Burn’s was not concerned for his own safety—he had a life jacket on—instead he cared more about Saint and Tacoma.

With his dogs on his shoulders and phone in one hand, he struggled to call for help.

He grabbed Saint and Tacoma and lifted them onto his shoulders, keeping them out of the water. He was about 400 yards from shore and the water was 10 feet deep, according to ABC News. He clearly needed help—so with one of his free hands, he called 911.

“If [one of the dogs] would move the phone would go back underwater,” Burns said in the video.

His first call made it through, but for one reason or another dispatchers couldn’t hear him.

“I don’t think the cell phone service was the best out there,” Burns said.

Unsure of whether his message got through, he tried again.


He tried calling several times, before finally the dispatcher managed to call him and reassure him help was on the way. But the wait seemed like forever.

“The [dogs] were scared, they didn’t know what was going on,” he told the Shreveport Times. “The longer we stood there waiting for someone to come help, we were all getting more exhausted.”

Burns had two options and both entailed risk. He could wait for help or swim back on his own, which might mean that he’d get home safely, but it could potentially cost dearly.

The weight of his two dogs’ lives hung on his decision—and his shoulders.

(Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office/Screenshot)

“If I should chance it and try to swim I thought that I would probably make it,” Burns said in the Sheriff’s Office video. “But I didn’t think that the dogs would make it.”

But for Burns the idea of abandoning his dogs or risking their safety was a nonstarter. 

“I elected to stay there,” Burns said.

And so he did. For roughly 45 minutes, Burns waited in the lake, grasping onto a tree and holding onto his dogs.

Thankfully, help was on the way.

(Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office/Screenshot)

When Sgt. Tim Wynn and Deputy Duane Washington received the dispatch call, Bossier Sheriff’s Marine Patrol was a further hour out, which would have been too long to wait.

“We came up with a plan,” Sgt. Wynn said in the Sheriff’s Office video. “[Deputy Washington] started knocking on doors trying to find a neighbor to get us out on the lake as fast as possible.”

It did not take long before their plan paid off. They got in touch with with Burns’s neighbor, Thomas Murphree, who not only lent them his boat, but, after a brief explanation of the situation, also knew exactly where Burns was.

Through their combined efforts, they were able to rescue Burns, Saint, and Tacoma.

(Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office/Screenshot)

At a little after 5 p.m., Burns finally saw his rescuers racing towards him on Murphree’s boat. Once they reached him, they lifted his dogs out of the water and brought Burns, Saint, and Tacoma to the safety of dry land.

“I’m very thankful that the dispatcher never gave up,” Burns said.

Thanks to their heroic efforts, Burns was totally fine—and thanks to Burns’s love for his dogs, both and Saint and Tacoma were fine, too.

“God looked out for everyone of us yesterday,” Sgt. Wynn told the Bossier Parish Deputies’ Office.

Deputies and Rescued Man (and Dogs) Discuss Rescue From Lake Bistineau

DEPUTIES AND RESCUED MAN (AND DOGS) DISCUSS RESCUE ON LAKE BISTINEAUOn Monday evening, we shared with you the incredible video of Bossier deputies and a Good Samaritan neighbor rescuing a man and his two dogs in Lake Bistineau after their boat sank.Here is an interview with the man and his wife (Christopher & Farrah Burns), and the two responding deputies (Sgt. Tim Wynn and Dep. Duane Washington of the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office). The two dogs they rescued were 4-year-old “Saint” and 7-year-old “Tacoma.” The Good Samaritan Neighbor was Thomas Murphree who lived three houses down and took the deputies onto his pontoon boat to go rescue Burns and his two dogs. Allison Green is the dedicated Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office dispatcher who stayed with the call to help deputies locate Burns. While Allison stayed on the line with Burns, other dispatchers were contacting deputies who were responding to the lake as quickly as possible. Much thanks also goes to the other responding agencies: Bossier Parish Fire District #2, Bienville Parish Fire Department and Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.(Video and Stills by Lt. Bill Davis, Bossier Sheriff’s Office)

Posted by Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Watch the full rescue below: