Firefighters rescue second dog from ice in two days

Saturday, February 23, 2008 | 4:02 p.m. CST; updated 2:24 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Fire Department rescued a second dog in two days from the ice Saturday morning at Bethel Park, Battalion Chief Gary Warren Jr. said.

Owner Cliff Opatken was walking his two dogs in Bethel Park when one of the dogs walked out onto the ice, falling through about 30-40 feet from the shore, according to a Fire Department news release.

When rescuers arrived around 8:10 a.m., Opatken was attempting to walk onto the ice to rescue the animal and had to be urged to return to shore, Warren said.

A firefighter secured to a safety line and wearing a “Mustang suit,” a thermal wet suit with increased buoyancy, fell through the ice while attempting to retrieve the dog and had to break her way through the ice to reach the pet, according to the release.

Once the dog was reached, the firefighter was pulled to shore, and the whole rescue lasted just over 5 minutes, Warren said. Medics provided the owner with blankets to warm the dog, which was released without injury.

On Friday, a 1-year-old dog was rescued by firefighters after falling through the ice at Twin Lakes Recreation Area. The dog was also uninjured and returned to owners upon rescue.

Warren said pet owners need to keep a few things in mind while walking dogs around frozen or partially frozen bodies of water.

“There are two things people can do to help us. One, keep dogs on a leash around water, and two, do not under any circumstance go on the ice,” Warren said. “We’d rather attempt an animal rescue than a human-and-animal rescue.”

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