SICS: A Story of Courage and Dedication

Dogs and humans united to save lives in the water

The ‘Scuola Italiana Cani da Salvataggio’ (SICS) is an outstanding organisation, both nationally and internationally, dedicated to the training of dog units specialised in water rescue.

Founded in 1989 by Ferruccio Pilenga, SICS has contributed significantly to the safety of people in Italian waters and beyond. Today, it has 300 trained and SICS-certified dog units, operating in civil protection activities and bathing safety projects in closed and open waters.

Over the years, SICS has developed state-of-the-art training techniques and operational capabilities that have enabled it to collaborate with major institutional bodies, contributing to the saving of numerous lives.

It all began with MAS, the first strong, wise and mighty Newfoundland

Ferruccio was at sea and realised that a boat needed help, or rather, needed MAS and its great strength. The sea is rough, there is imminent danger, the small boat is crashing against the rocks destroying itself, without delay he dives in.

Mas follows him and together they go to their rescue and pull the boat away from the rocks.

MAS’s courage on that occasion sparked Ferruccio’s interest in the Newfoundland breed and inspired the birth of SICS. Thus began an in-depth study of the breed, studying their origins and qualities. Ferruccio’s vision was clear: to create a school dedicated to training rescue dogs and their handlers.

Since then, SICS has traced a path characterised by grit, tenacity and success. The determination to achieve ambitious goals has led to the creation of a unique organisation capable of saving countless lives in emergency situations on the water.

The training of SICS instructors and dogs has been a crucial element of this success. The instructors are committed to conveying the passion and sense of responsibility required to be part of SICS. Every trainee who undertakes the training must understand the significance of being part of this extraordinary organisation and feel pride in it.

In addition, SICS has invested in improving the equipment used in rescue operations. Over the years, the equipment has been perfected to adapt to the physiognomy and build of the dogs, ensuring maximum efficiency in rescue operations. Today, SICS have the best floating rescue harnesses, some of which are even winchable.

The testimonies of the numerous rescues carried out each year demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of the work carried out by SICS. Every trained canine represents a fundamental link in the safety chain of people who frequent Italian waters.

The Scuola Italiana Cani da Salvataggio (SICS) is an example of dedication, passion and commitment to rescue in the aquatic environment. Thanks to the courage of men and dogs, SICS has contributed significantly to making our waters safer and saving lives. This organisation deserves the recognition and admiration of all for its extraordinary contribution to the safety and well-being of the community.


Gabriele Mansi



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