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County firefighters help rescue dog, owner from ice

County residents are being urged to stay off the ice after firefighters were called to rescue two dogs and their owner Saturday afternoon. It’s reported the dogs fell through the ice in an aerated dugout on Highway 723 near Township Road 724 east of Beaverlodge some time before 2:45 p.m.

County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire Service Deputy Fire Chief Jason Nesbitt says the owner was able to rescue one dogwith a rope around his waist, but the other succumbed to the conditions. The owner couldn’t make it back to shore on his own, and the fire department pulled him and the rescued dog back.

Nesbitt warns people against taking unnecessary risks to rescue animals.

“If an animal falls through the ice, chances are any person attempting to rescue the animal will too. Animals are better equipped to save themselves then people. Doing so not only endangers yourself, but that of others at the scene who may now attempt to rescue you.”

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This is the second time in a week that County Regional Fire Services has rescued a dog from the ice. On November 7th, Nesbitt says firefighters were called to help a resident trying to rescue a dog with a rope and fishing boat on Brainard Lake, west of Hythe.

“The ice conditions at this time of year are unpredictable and in locations could be several inches thick, then a few feet away may barely be present,” he notes. “Aerated dugouts and ponds are especially dangerous. As seen in both incidents, the weight of a dog was
sufficient to collapse the ice.”

If a person or animal falls through ice and can’t escape, residents are told to call 9-1-1 for help, then try to coach the person or animal out of the water and reach to give them something to grab onto if close to the shore. If unable to get them to safety, Nesbitt advises keeping a constant watch on their location, encouraging the person to keep their forearms on solid ice, and waiting for trained emergency personnel.

“Always follow the directions of emergency personnel once they arrive on scene and the directions of our highly trained 9-1-1 dispatchers. The directions they give are to ensure your safety,” he adds.

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