Firefighters Save Dog From Drowning in the Icy Waters of Lake Superior

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic

A dog is lucky to be alive after taking a dip into Lake Superior’s frigid December waters. Minnesota Firefighters battled biting cold and eight-foot-tall waves to save the pooch who escaped from their leash and jumped into the lake’s freezing water. 

The Duluth Minnesota Fire Department posted on social media that several marine units were sent to rescue a dog that jumped into Lake Superior from the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. 

The pup’s owner met the rescues on the bridge and pointed out the dog struggling to stay afloat in eight-foot-plus waves in the middle of the ship canal. Crews donned ice rescue suits before entering the lake to protect them from the ice-cold water of Lake Superior. 

At the same time, additional rescues were sent with the department’s 14-foot inflatable boat to assist the crew in the water. 

The rescue team fought their way through freezing water and huge waves to find the dog, but couldn’t see him due to low light and waves. The dog’s coat was also dark in color and they kept slipping under the water, making them hard to find.

Thanks to the dog owner and fire personnel who shouted directions from the pier, the firefighters managed to locate the dog and grab them by their collar. Even though they had their hands on the pup, firefighters faced several problems before bringing the dog safely to the shore. 

The crew tried to swim with the dog to the shore, but they struggled in high waves. The pooch was large and terrified, and rescues struggled to keep its head above water. 

The waves swept the firefighters and the pup under the Duluth bridge, towards the bay and away from shore. Luckily the additional firefighters arrived with an inflatable boat and pulled the dog and the rescues from freezing waters.

As soon as their paws touched solid ground, the exhausted pooch was treated for hypothermia by emergency staff. To everyone’s delight, the dog’s condition improved quickly and they were able to walk on their own. According to officials, the dog was wagging their tail as they jumped into their owner’s car. 

The Duluth Minnesota Fire Department shared that firefighters prevented the dog’s owner from jumping into the water in an attempt to save the beloved dog themselves. The officials added that bystanders had to convince the owner not to go in after the dog and warned people against putting themselves in danger to save a pet.

The Duluth Fire Department wants to stress to the public the importance of not putting yourself into a situation you are neither trained nor equipped to handle. This will not only put you at risk but the emergency responders as well. It will also greatly limit the options we have to try and save your pet as all efforts will now be directed at saving you,” Duluth Fire Department officials said.

We have learned in the fire service that if we don’t respond to help in these situations that bystanders and owners likely will take action on their own,” they added. “Without the proper training and equipment, this most often results in the firefighters now responding to a call for a person in harm’s way.”

“Given the waves and temperature conditions in the canal last night, anyone entering the water without the proper training and equipment would most likely have ended in tragedy,” fire officials added. 

Luckily for all that wasn’t the case! Thanks to the brave firefighters the pooch and their owner are safe and can enjoy each other’s company for many years to come.  

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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