Firefighters work quickly to rescue dog from frigid Oneida Lake

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ONEIDA LAKE — The quick actions of Sylvan Beach firefighters saved a young dog that fell through the thin ice of Oneida Lake Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m glad that we got out there when we did,” said Sylvan Beach Fire Chief Rick Johnson. “She had no fight left in her.”

Johnson said the dog, a young female, had been out on the lake for several hours and the owner was worried. The owner called 9-1-1 at about 4:42 p.m. because her dog wasn’t moving out on the ice. “They could see her, but she wasn’t moving, which was kind of unlike her,” Johnson explained.

Two attempts were made by people on shore to try and reach the animal, but the chief said those people easily broke through the ice and they had to turn back. The dog ran out further on the frozen lake.

Chief Johnson and Lt. Austin Brown donned their ice water rescue gear and took the department’s air boat out onto the lake, speeding across the ice as they searched for the pooch. Johnson said they needed to use binoculars because the dog had managed to run about a mile from shore off Lake Shore Drive.

The chief said they were about 100 yards from the dog when “she ran to a soft spot and actually fell in the water.”

The dog broke through the thin ice and into about 15 feet of water, Johnson said. She was only in the freezing cold water for about 15 to 20 seconds before the boat reached her.

“We get up close on our boat, jumped in and got the dog out,” Johnson stated. He added that the dog was so tired, and the water was so cold, that she likely would not have lasted long submerged. He said his crew’s ice water rescue suits kept them warm.

The dog was treated for exposure and returned to shore. Johnson said he heard through the grapevine Thursday morning that “she’s fine”.

The North Bay Fire Department aided from shore, and Johnson thanked resident Tom Moore for letting them use his launch, and the Three Pines Marina for its help. Johnson said Oneida Lake may be covered in ice but noted the mild winter so far has made the ice dangerous. “That lake is still very, very unsafe,” Johnson warned.

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