Coast Guard rescues dog, stresses ice safety

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard rescued a dog from the frigid waters of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Sunday morning after it fell through the ice.

At about 9 a.m., the owner of the dog called Door County, Wis., 911 reporting that her dog had fallen through the ice after chasing a goose out on the ice. A Door County 911 dispatcher then contacted the Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay.

A short-haul ice-rescue team was dispatched at 9:10 a.m., and the rescue team was on scene with the dog at 9:20 a.m.

“The ice is really new right now, so it is really important to understand the ice conditions,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Disher, officer-of-the-day at Station Sturgeon Bay. “In this case, the owner of the dog did the right thing by not trying to rescue her dog by herself and calling us for help instead.”

After the rescue, the dog was checked out by a veterinarian and was released back to its owner.

The Coast Guard wants to remind the public to make a commitment to ice safety, since varying levels of ice thickness are common on the Great Lakes. If people do choose to go on to the ice, they should remember the acronym I.C.E. — “Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment.”

*     Intelligence – Know the weather and ice conditions, know where you’re going, and know how to call for help. Also help others find you by remaining upright and standing to give rescuers a bigger target to locate you. Only do this if it is safe to do so.

*     Clothing – Have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia; dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. The public is encouraged to wear retro-reflective clothing in case of a search taking place at night. Avoid wearing cotton and wear layers of clothing that wick away moisture like Polypropylene, which retains more of your body heat than any other fabric. Polypropylene thermals are the best extreme cold weather base layer of clothing made.

*     Equipment – Have proper equipment: marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks, etc.

Freezing air and water temperatures significantly decrease survival time for persons immersed in the water or trapped on the ice. Cold water kills quickly! Surprisingly, cold water is defined as any water temperature less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The fact that air temperatures might be far above freezing is irrelevant when people unexpectedly enter the water.

While the Coast Guard understands winter recreation on cold water and ice around the Great Lakes is a tradition, it is important to take safety measures:

*     Complete a “float plan.”  Always notify family and friends where you are going and when you expect to be back – and stick to the plan.  Be sure to notify them when plans change. Click here for more information on float plans.

*     Never venture out alone; plan outings with other boaters who will be on their own vessels.

*     If boating with pets, keep in mind animals also need the added protection of flotation while enduring colder weather.  Not all animals swim or swim well.  Like their human companions, animals are just as susceptible to the harsh elements, including the effects of hypothermia. Several manufacturers make life jackets specifically for dogs and cats, in a variety of sizes.

*     Set limits. Know when it’s time to call it a day. There will always be another day and another outing.

Click here to read the blog about the Coast Guard’s various ice rescue assets.

Click here to read five facts about ice .

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