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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Firefighters save puppy after fall into icy river

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FREMONT - A local family's German shepherd puppy is resting safely at home today after Sandusky Township firefighters rescued the dog from the icy Sandusky River.

Township residents Karen and Timothy Scott say their 7-month-old pup named Lady is alive today because of the tireless efforts of the firefighters, who fought to reach the pooch as it struggled to stay afloat after falling through some ice in the middle of the river. The front of the family's East Ream Road home faces the east bank of the Sandusky River.

"I'm grateful for what they did for me and I'm going to send them a card or something to thank them for saving my dog," Mr. Scott said.

The trouble began at about

6:50 a.m. Monday. That is when Mr. Scott woke up to let his oldest dog, Chance, outside and he noticed Lady, who stayed in the backyard overnight, was missing. As he wandered around his property calling for the dog, he heard panicked yelping coming from the middle of the Sandusky River, which was mostly frozen except for a small hole about 100 yards offshore where Lady had fallen in.

"It's like watching my kid drown because I can't get to her. That's how I felt," Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Scott tried to walk out on the ice, but it collapsed beneath him, plunging him knee deep into the frigid water.

He then tried to use the family's paddle boat to rescue his dog, but the ice that was too weak to support his weight was too strong to navigate through.

That's when Mrs. Scott called 911. "Lady was cold. You could hear it. When she would cry, you could hear how cold she was ... I was crying, hearing her scream like that."

Township Fire Chief Dean Schneider and a crew of about 11 firefighters responded to the scene at about 7 a.m. with an estimated 14-foot, aluminum, rescue boat and tools to break the ice. Chief Schneider and fire fighters Adam Mikolajczyk, Jared Shaffer, and Larry Rathfelder helped pilot the vessel.

"We basically reach out in front of the boat and break the ice to make a pathway to get into open water and maneuver in as straight a line as we can to get to the dog," the chief said.

It took an estimated 15 to 30 minutes to reach the dog, which at times sank beneath the water. Lady's snout was the only thing sticking out of the water when the firefighters pulled her into the boat.

"She didn't fight at all. She just kind of went limp when we got hold of her. She was done fighting," Chief Schneider said.

Mrs. Scott, who said she left for work during the ordeal because she did not want to watch her dog die, received a call from her daughter, Nichole Davis, later that morning, letting her know Lady had survived.

"I was just so glad, I didn't know what to do. I started crying," she said.

The Scott family's veterinarian said Lady did not require any treatment after the incident, only to rest and to stay indoors for at least a few days.

Mr. and Mrs. Scott said they believe their dog, who likes to chase animals, may have escaped through a small hole in their backyard fence.

"She was an outside dog. She's not anymore," Mrs. Scott said.

The township fire department pulled another dog from the Sandusky River on Sunday in Fremont. Chief Schneider said that dog did not survive.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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