In 1989, Ferruccio Pilenga opened a School for Life-Guard Dogs. Pilenga, together with his inseparable Terranova named MAS (the only dog in Italy with a SICS Operative Water Rescue Certificate recognised by Switzerland, France and Italy Port Authorities and Coast Guards).
Some breeds of dogs have a built-in instinct to recue people. The best known is the Newfoundland (i.e. Terranova) others are the Labrador and Retriever.
Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue / life saving due to their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet and innate swimming abilities.
The Italian School of Rescue Dogs is the only institution in Europe to organise annual classes to train water rescue dogs in sea rescue by boats and helicopters. They collaborate closely with Italian Heli-Rescue Teams - Air Rescue, Airforce, Police, Customs, Firemen and Civil Defence.