In the dead of winter, expect one eternal truth – where there’s a frozen river, a dog will want to play on it. The problem, however, is that sometimes those playful dogs get stuck. Sometimes they even fall in. Either way, playtime can quickly become a life or death situation.
Here are the stories of four dogs who ventured onto frozen rivers this winter and found themselves in desperate danger. This is also the story of the selfless people who rescued them, despite crippling cold and perilous conditions. The dogs’ lives were literally on the line until these brave animal lovers took action.
1. Two Determined Men Use a Kayak to Rescue Shivering Dog From Delaware River
A scared 2-year-old mastiff named Duke spent several chilly hours stranded on the ice on the frozen Delaware River near Trenton, N.J., in late January 2014. He drew gawkers on both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania sides of the river, some of whom whistled or threw hot dogs at him to encourage him to come to them.
Local authorities even had one of their police dogs bark at Duke through a loudspeaker. Nothing worked. After hours of trying, the authorities eventually left the scene as dusk approached, even though the poor dog was still out there. They deemed a rescue attempt unsafe for their personnel.
That’s when an animal shelter volunteer named Russ Miller decided someone had to save that dog. Miller, a former firefighter, is trained in ice rescues. He brought a kayak to the river, and with the help of a bystander, Ciro Silvestri, pushed it 200 yards across the jagged ice toward Duke. Animal control officer Richard Hutchinson was there to lend a hand as well.
Watch a news story about this rescue here:
Silvestri came to the river after hearing about the situation from a relative.
“She said that fire department isn’t really wanting to do anything about it, they don’t want to endanger themselves. If they are not going to do something, I will,” Silvestri told 6ABC.com.
At great risk to themselves, Miller and Silvestri ventured out onto the ice. They had to rope and secure a very nervous Duke to get him into the kayak before they could transport him back to shore.
“When you’re an animal lover, you feel you have to do the right thing,” Hutchinson said. After his ordeal, Duke happily fell asleep on the lap of the manager of the shelter where he was taken. He has since been reunited with his family.
2. Firefighters Swim Through Massachusetts‘ Icy Charles River to Save Golden Retriever
When a golden retriever named Crosby fell through the ice into the painfully cold Charles River near Wellesley, Mass., on Dec. 22, 2013, local firefighters didn’t hesitate.
After the frantic 911 call came in, it was unclear where on the river the dog had fallen in. Firefighters pinpointed his location using the GPS coordinates of the cell phone Crosby’s owner had used. En route, to save precious minutes, they pulled on their ice survival rescue suits. Once on the scene, they wasted no time making their way out to the desperate Crosby. He was swimming in circles, looking for a way to get out. The water was shockingly cold.
“The dog wanted to get out of the water pretty bad,” Wellesley Fire Captain Jim Dennehy told Boston.com. “It was cold, so the dog was shivering pretty good.”
Watch a news report about this amazing rescue from Boston’s WCVB TV here:
The firefighters snagged Crosby’s collar, then grabbed a rope thrown by those waiting on the shore. Those who saw this rescue are sure that Crosby would soon have tired and drowned had the Wellesley Fire Department not acted so quickly.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it plans to present the department with its Compassionate Fire Department Award for this wonderful rescue.
Photo credit: Wellesley Police Department Facebook page
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