A dog that fell through thin ice on Osoyoos Lake and was unable to get out on Friday afternoon has made it home safely, thanks an exhaustive rescue mission by local first responders.
Osoyoos Fire Department chief Ryan McCaskill said a call came in after 2 p.m. that two dogs were playing on the ice near the north end of the lake and both fell in the water. They were able to get out initially but one ended up falling in again.
“One fell back in and the other one went to help,” he said. “When we got out there, there was a dog in the water.”
Because of the amount of ice, the Osoyoos RCMP’s boat has been out taken of the water for the winter and without a nearby launch, getting it in wasn’t likely, but a nearby resident let responders use their own.
Firefighters and police officers took the boat onto the lake and attempted to reach the dog, but had a difficult time traveling through the ice.
“I was watching the dog and you could see him losing the fight, he just put his head on the ice,” McCaskill said. “I knew it was time we get out there; it was going to take too long.”
So McCaskill jumped out of the boat and onto the ice and was able to run to the dog, but when coming within about 20 feet, he also fell through.
“I had to break the ice and get to him and when I finally got to him, which felt like forever, he was done and I just grabbed him by the collar and pulled him on to me and rolled onto my back.”
But the dog – likely a pitbull-cross – was heavy, and nearly pulled McCaskill down, despite wearing an ice rescue suit with a flotation device.
“I actually had to put my hand and my foot on the ice until the boat got closer, and they were having a heck of a time getting across.”
That’s when Osoyoos RCMP Sgt. Jason Bayda told firefighter Casey Brouwer to run to McCaskill and get him a life line.
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But Brouwer couldn’t get close enough, so he pulled the boat while Bayda used a paddle to push it through the ice, and eventually they got close enough to get McCaskill and the dog on board.
“Ryan was pretty tired, he was calling for the boat to get out there,” Bayda said. “I was scared that we were losing him.”
Community paramedic Todd Kunz was on scene to provide medical assistance, and the dog was warmed up with blankets and brought to a veterinarian.
Bayda said he’s been informed that the dog has made a full recovery.
As for the other dog that was spotted when the call was made, the people that originally reported the incident to RCMP thought it had gone under the ice and didn’t come back up, but the owners told the vet that it had in fact made it home safe.
“Everything fell into place,” Bayda said.
While on scene, crews didn’t know the other dog had made it out and survived but McCaskill said he was happy to hear the news.
“Knowing that both got out made my day.”
It was great teamwork that made the rescue successful, Bayda said.
“Not one of us was willing to let the dog drown.”