Two ice rescues in two days in Central Oregon. Both incidents involved dogs breaking through ice and pet owners trying to rescue their canine companions also falling through the ice.
“Watching this dog in distress, I felt I had to do something.”
Robert Yee of Bend was taking his dogs for a walk at Reynolds Pond near Alfalfa on Sunday when he heard calls for help.
RELATED: Firefighters train to rescue people, pets who fall through Central Oregon ice
He saw a dog’s head peeking out from the water about 100 feet offshore and decided to try rescuing it, contrary to advice of emergency dispatchers and firefighters who were arriving on the scene.
Yee broke through the ice and went head first into the water.
“Fortunately, I was able to immediately stand up. It was about chest high in water. I was able to break about 10 more feet of ice in front of me that was soft. Then I was able to grab the dog’s collar and pull him towards me.”
“If the ice isn’t going to support a 50 pound dog, it’s probably not going to support the weight of a 100-some-odd-pound human,” said Cindy Kettering, Deputy Fire Marshal for the Bend Fire Department.
A similar ice rescue happened on Saturday at the Hatfield Lakes near McGrath Road.
A dog fell through ice and people who went in to rescue it also broke through into icy cold water. Everyone managed to get out.
“Very lucky,” Kettering said. “It doesn’t take long in that cold water for hypothermia to set in and for a person to become incapacitated.”
Lucky in more ways than one: The water is shallow this time of year in both locations, allowing people to touch bottom.
“I was conscious of trying to get to the dog,” Yee said. “Trying to not be a statistic. Not become a victim of ice water immersion and drowning.”
This was the third ice rescue this winter involving the Bend Fire Department.
“If someone does go through ice into the water, don’t go after them,” Kettering said. “We want you to call 911 and then reach to them with a branch, a pole, something if you can. Throw a rope to them if you can, but don’t go out onto the ice.”
Fire departments are equipped and train for ice rescues.
They respond to dogs falling through ice because they don’t want people trying to rescue their dogs also falling in.