Close X

A Warning to Pups and People: Keep Your Paws off the Ice

All we can say is -- Unbelievable! As winter has flurried along, weve been seeing an alarming number of stories about dogs who have tragically...

Maria Goodavage  |  Jan 12th 2010


All we can say is — Unbelievable!

As winter has flurried along, weve been seeing an alarming number of stories about dogs who have tragically fallen through ice, and their humans who accidentally or heroically go in after them. In most cases, both end up dying. Here’s just the tip of the iceberg of recent incidents:

dog-on-ice On Monday, a Fort Worth-area woman attempted to save her two dogs who had fallen through an icy pond. Her third dog, an Italian greyhound, tried to get rescuers to the scene, but when they finally got there, it was too late. The woman and two dogs did not make it. (You can read the sad story of the greyhound’s attempts to save his owner and friends in this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article)

This past weekend an 11-year-old boy and his dog went out for a walk near their suburban Chicago home. Neither returned. Their bodies were found in an icy retention pond hours later. The boy’s mother told the Chicago Tribune she thinks the dog went out onto the pond and her son went after the him. She says her son “just loved that dog so much.”

Also this weekend, a man died after falling through thick ice into an English river while trying to rescue his two dogs, according to the BBC. Another BBC article reports that across Derbyshire, on Sunday alone, five people had to be rescued in separate incidents when they tried to save dogs who had fallen through frozen lakes and ponds.

In late December, two adult brothers drowned trying to save their dog, who had fallen through the ice at a large Northern California lake. A third man managed to make it back to shore. The dog survived.

Sadly, the list could go on and on. But well freeze it here.

If (heaven forbid) you do end up falling through the ice, your chances of survival will be much greater if youre armed with a little knowledge. Check out the video below for a fascinating look at a Canadian thermophysiologist who really throws himself into his work. It could save your life one day, or the life of someone you love. Then keep reading for specifics on what to do if (heaven once again forbid) your dog falls through the ice.

The following is from a public service article published by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. I dont know if I could follow its mandate and not rush to Jakes side if he fell through ice, but the advice is solid unlike so much ice out there.

If Your Dog Falls Through the Ice, Don’t Risk its Life by Risking Your Own

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Each year, people fall into freezing water trying to rescue their dogs. Should your pet fall through the ice, unless you are well-informed, you may inadvertently end up harming both your dog and yourself.

Ice tips for you and your dog

* Ice over moving water should always be avoided; the ice that forms on top of streams and rivers may never become solidly frozen.
* Ice is not safe to stand on unless it is at least 10 cm (4 inches) thick.
* Whenever possible, keep your pets away from frozen water.
* If you need to walk close to frozen water, try to walk your pet in a populated area.
* If you are unfamiliar with the area, keep your pets on a leash.

Even well-trained animals run away occasionally. What to do if your dog falls through the ice

* Stay calm. Your first instinct will be to run and help, however, you need to think clearly about the situation.
* Do not run to your pet, as you may be in danger of falling through the thin ice. An animal’s natural instinct will be to try and limb out of the water, if you go to your pet, you may find yourself accidentally pulled into the water.
* Stay back off the ice. If you are standing on ice, move away from the area, as the ice you are on may also be weak. Lie flat on the ice and spread your weight out and more towards solid ground, keeping your eyes on your pet. Call your pet’s name. Once on safe ground call your pet and encourage him/her to come to you. Dogs are incredible swimmers and can often free themselves from dangerous situations.
* Call for help. If there are people around, call out. It is amazing how many people carry cell phones and they may be able to call the fire department for you.
* Call 911. If your pet is unable to free itself after 2 minutes, immediately call the fire department and let them know what has happened.
* Visit the vet. Once your pet is safe, take them to the veterinarian for a check up. Let your vet know exactly what has happened.