I hate to be the one to put a damper on things, but....
If I were the scoutmaster, and they couldn't find PFD's, I think I would have told them they can't do it. Maybe I would relent if some or all of the following were true: They had something else that floated, the water was known to be less than 3 feet deep, they had rope with them.
But getting a scared dog into a canoe seems to me to have a risk of someone falling into the water. If it was warm water, then I might consider it enough of an emergency to ignore the rules. But it looks like it's far enough from shore that I wouldn't let them risk it in cold water without life jackets, or something else almost as good.
(I wasn't able to see the video, so maybe it shows something that would make me change my mind.)
On the other hand, I wouldn't worry about the lack of "oars". (And I'm guessing that's the reporter's choice of words.) It sounds like the scouts figured that out.