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.
3. Chief Deputy Dog Warden Saves German Shepherd Trapped on Frozen Black River
Buddy the German Shepherd somehow got himself stuck on the ice on the Black River in Elyria, Ohio, on Jan. 6, 2014. He got down a 100-foot embankment but then couldn’t get himself back up it again. The poor dog paced helplessly back and forth on the ice for two hours in frigid two-degree weather. Finally, someone noticed him and called Nelson Delgado, the Lorain County Chief Deputy Dog Warden.
The ice was too thin to support Delgado, so he used a trick he’s employed before – he leaned out over the ice, hanging onto a tree, and used a leash like a lasso. He then pulled Buddy to safety. Watch the rescue here:
Delgado is sure Buddy was grateful. Safely at home again, Buddy licked Delgado’s hand as he left.
“He was like saying, ‘Hey, thank you,’” Delgado told the ChronicleOnline. “He was very happy to be back home.”
4. Rescuers Use Axes to Chop Puppy Out of Frozen Canadian River
What do you do when you find a Great Pyrenees puppy literally frozen to the North Saskatchewan River? If you’re the firefighters of Edmonton, in the Canadian province of Alberta, you break out your axes and start chopping.
Little Roscoe disappeared from his home on Dec. 29, 2013, and was gone overnight. Somehow he found his way to the river and ended up stuck there, quite literally. The river is bounded by steep embankments, which probably kept Roscoe from climbing out.
“His lower extremities were frozen into the river,” Roscoe’s owner, Dave Baird, told CTV News. “We suspect he was probably in the water 24 hours.”
Luckily, as a Great Pyrenees, Roscoe had a lot of dense fur to protect him. Without it, he almost certainly would have died.
The difficult terrain around the river made getting to Roscoe a challenge for firefighers. They persevered, however, and chopped him free from his icy prison. See raw footage of some of this rescue at this link.
“Roscoe is by far, he’s the toughest dog I know,” Baird told CBC News. “He’s unbelievable. If it would have been any other dog they never would have survived it.”
Hats off to all these courageous rescuers. They didn’t let fears for personal safety interfere with their determination to save these dogs. These good-hearted people were the only thing standing between salvation and death. We can thank them for happy endings all around. Who can ask for more?
Photo credit: Wellesley Police Department Facebook page