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Posted on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Dog saved by Ann Arbor ice rescue team after falling through ice near Bandemer Park

By Lorrie Shaw


Mosie, waiting for rescue crews to pull her from the icy water.

Photo by Cathy Theisen

The topic on the lips of most everyone in the Ann Arbor area is the mild winter that we've had.

The lack of snow has some begrudging Mother Nature, but for those of us who are out and about with dogs regularly, it’s been a blessing: no need for tiresome bundling up and unbundling or worrying about losing sure-footing because of slippery surfaces.

With the mild weather comes a constant state of flux, though. Though some of the waterways have had an opportunity to freeze up, these warmer temperatures have allowed for some of that ice to thaw and break up, and that can be a cause of concern when it comes to pets.

One dog found herself in a very precarious situation Wednesday while out for a walk at Bandemer Park.


After her rescue, Mosie gets dried off by personnel.

Photo by Cathy Theisen

Mosie, a black mixed-breed dog, was walking with her owner near the banks of the Huron River when she spied a gaggle of geese and began chasing them. That proved to be an unwise decision, because it led her to venture out onto a shelf of thawing ice, where she fell through into the icy water.

Clinging to the ice shelf — which extended quite a distance out and along the bank of the river — and keeping herself above water, Mosie barked at her distraught owner to help.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, and her inability to intervene, the woman immediately waved down another walker in the area, Dr. Cathy Theisen, DVM of Ann Arbor — and made an emergency call to request assistance.

Ann Arbor Police and City of Ann Arbor Fire Department arrived on the scene quickly.

The latter group, as you may know, is trained to handle rescues of this nature and came prepared: blankets, survival suits and gear that help to not only get to the human or animal that needs help, but also keeps rescue teams safe during the process.

The AAFD does hold ongoing trainings for this type of rescue, and this incident provided an ideal training opportunity for rescue team members to test their skills. Since the air temperature was in the 40s on Wednesday, it improved the conditions greatly for the sake of the dog and those involved in the rescue. Safety, however, was still paramount, and all necessary gear was used.

Once the team physically reached Mosie, she had been in the water for about 25 minutes. When she was safely on top of the ice shelf, she was able to walk back up to the riverbank on her own, where she was dried off by personnel.

The dog was then checked out by Theisen, who determined that she was no worse for the wear, and gave her and her owner a ride home since they had walked about a mile from their home.

Mosie's owner never expected anything like that to happen yesterday — and who would?

Theisen, with the permission of AAFD, AAPD and the dog's owner, documented the events as they unfolded with the camera on her smart phone. The dog owner wanted to share her story as a way to help others avoid a situation like this but declined to be identified by name.

As has been the theme over and over again here on the pets section, pets can behave unpredictably, and we can only do our best to keep them safe. This case, as the dog owner wants everyone to understand, illustrates the importance of keeping a pet leashed in unpredictable situations.

Another crucial point if a situation like this does happen: know your location. Time is of the essence when emergency crews are trying to find you.

Thankfully, we know that if the need arises, the capability is there to successfully provide a rescue on the ice. One lesson to take from this situation is that in weather like this, the inherent danger of lakes and rivers is something that we all need to be mindful of.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Follow her daily pet adventures on Twitter.


Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Dogs should be on leashes so they do not scare those who are afraid of dogs. Most likely, no one was around so she saw no harm in allowing her dog the joy of running free. Big deal. When the unexpected happened, and it fell in the ice, it was a great opportunity for the AAFD to practice a real rescue, if they screwed it up, and the dog was lost, then we all know that this same mistake will not happen again. Training is predictable, and a real rescue is not. I'm sure that this was exciting and satisfying for all. If there had been a real emergency such as a multi-car collusion with many injuries, the rescuers could always abandon the dog rescue and attend to the higher need. But the chances of this happening are so low as to not contemplate. I'm amazed that after 25 minutes in almost 32-degree water, that the dog could just go home. A person would need a lukewarm bath to recover form hypothermia. I would have thought that it would have walked, on a leash to warm up.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

Dog fur has an insulating quality, especially in water dogs like labs, though I have no idea what breed this dog is. You training comment is well taken and I would hope that in the event of a human emergency the rescue team would have in fact given the human emergency a priority even if it resulted in the dogs death.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

This situation could also happen to a dog ON a leash! You could be happily walking along and suddenly your dog yanks your arm out of its socket because a cat walked by (no leashes for cats, eh?). Or you could have a long retractable leash and the dog walks on the edge of the shore and the ice breaks! Please don't be so mean to our fellow creatures. A society is judged on how we treat the least of our members, the sick, elderly and the animals.

Nature lover

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Taxes pay for these types of services. We don't scream for people that, because of a neglect to follow rules, to pay up (such as causing a car accident or house fire). Why should this be any different? Wished people would think before they rush to criticize.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

You must have missed the articles about some townships and cities being so low on funds for emergency services that they ARE charging people who, because of some irresponsible acts or an inappropriate 911 call, caused the township or city to have to use valuable resources to respond. It's up to all of us to be responsible for our own lives and to appreciate the seriousness involved in using emergency resources our taxes pay for. If we want to use emergency services for all things and expect them to just show up and help at no charge no matter how irresponsible our actions were, then we better be prepared to pay more in taxes. Personally I'm not prepared or willing to do that so I would prefer that those acting irresponsibly pay for their own actions and possibly learn their lesson.

Anne R.

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

What a good story! Please tell us more about how the rescue crew was able to reach Mosie without themselves breaking through the ice. Did they walk or crawl toward the dog? Were they linked together in case one fell through? How did they get Mosie up out of the water and back onto the ice.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Great work by all involved! It is good to know that the readiness, resources, training and skills are there when needed - whatever the weather & whoever needs it when a life is on the line. We're all grateful for what you do AAFD & AAPD!!!


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Lots of time and money spent on a dog. Do they charge the owner for this?


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

What money? Whether or not this rescue happened, the FD is still getting paid. So please give us your breakdown on all this money that was wasted? FD didn't run out and buy ice rescue suits on the way to the call. They didn't call 20 firefighters in to handle this. So pony up some numbers....


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.

Exactly. I would do all I could without putting my life or that of others in danger and I would most certainly not call 911 because they already have too many people calling for inappropriate things. Of course, all this being said, my dog would never be off a leash or out of an enclosed area anyway so I wouldn't have to worry about this. If I couldn't control my animal I wouldn't own it because that would be irresponsible.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

obviouscomment, so if your dog was drowning right in front of you, you would just stand there and watch it drown because you "would never call 911 for an animal?"


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

I would never call 911 for an animal unless it was attacking me. I don't understand what makes people think that 911 is for everything.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

I'd love to see yours and so many other people's comments had AAFD done something like "nah, we're not going to come rescue your dog. It's just a dog. We only care about humans... some of the time." So annoying.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 7:43 a.m.

I like happy endings, thanks to all involved in the rescue. To the owner, don't worry about what the miserable dregs of the internet type from their mother's basements.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 6:19 a.m.

Enough said. This woman made a mistake; a bad one, and I'm sure she feels terrible about her dog, as I would. She probably feels bad about having to call for help, also, as I would. For all of you who feel she should be hung up for display to be shamed and sentenced to hard labor, I hope you never make a mistake or have to call for assistance. Are you surprised that she didn't want to be identified? We all know what would happen if she was, with the state of humanity these days. Some of those who post comments here are so self-righteous. We are lucky to have the AAFD and AAPD who work so hard every day to keep all of us safe. Thank You! And thank you, Dr. Theisen!


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

Other people who make "mistakes" get prosecuted why not her?


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I couldn't have said it better. Selfish, mean spirited people are a big problem in the world today. Thank you Lily'sMom for bringing some human caring to this story.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 5:23 a.m.

These comments are so typical of the reactionary anti-dog contingent in this town it is laughable. For those who feel the owner should be billed for emergency service, perhaps you will also be comfortable with billing all accident victims according to what is acceptable or unacceptable to your personal values. As an aside, I'm in San Francisco this week and it's so great to see well-beahved dogs and owners virtually everywhere, including restaurants.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

Maybe it's because the majority of dog owners in the area think that they live on a farm and can allow their dogs to run free or poop everywhere and possibly even bite at others. If you want that life for your dog then invest in a large property and an invisible fence. Because even in most rural areas there are leash laws.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Wendy, I am *so* with you. I don't know what it is about Ann Arbor that turns people into sanctimonious dog haters but there sure do seem to be a lot of them around. But there are lots of dog lovers too and I, for one, LOVE seeing all of the local well behaved dogs off leash or on around town, even in restaurants (well on restaurant patios). The best thing is to just ignore the dog haters. Seriously.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

So glad I don't live in San Francisco.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:53 a.m.

I agree with the comments that wonder why a RESPONSIBLE dog owner would not have her dog on a leash. I do not think she should be billed. If that happens then all humans who get trapped on an ice flow for ice fishing should be billed too. The other problem with billing the person would be that if you do, the next person that has a similar situation will make a monetary decision on the life of an animal that is doing what animals do by instinct. How many of you wan to allow a dog to suffer hypothermia in the frigid waters of the Huron River because the owner could not afford to pay to have them rescued.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

I completely disagree with the idea of charging people a fee for using emergency services. It is nothing but a way to shift the burden of costs onto the poor who must pay a higher percentage of their income for such fees.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

Some states are in fact charging hikers, fisherman, and other adventurists for the cost of the rescue efforts. I think it would be completely appropriate, especially in this case which I consider the dog owner as negligent in her responsibilities to protect the dog. She also put humans in danger to rescue the animal. Maybe a little fiscal liability is needed to promote responsible behavior.

Lorrie Shaw

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:37 a.m.

Thank you all for your comments, they are appreciated. To everyone who questioned the leash law, yes - there is a leash law, regardless of whether one is in a park or elsewhere. It is obvious from the text that it was not followed. No one is side-stepping or spinning the facts. The phrase that I chose, "keeping a pet leashed in unpredictable situations", I felt was more than appropriate: anytime that a dog is outside of the confines of their home, secured backyard or even a secured vehicle, that's an unpredictable situation. A lot of factors contribute to that. This post was written as a cautionary tale and of course, as a kudos to the AAPD and AAFD. It proved to be a great opportunity for this issue to be discussed, and thankfully it had a favorable outcome. Here's some things to think about: "Why do these ice rescue teams exist in the first place? What situations generally facilitate them being put into action?" Thanks again everyone, as always, for your comments.

John Hritz

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

All rescue teams have training budgets and schedules to maintain readiness between calls. I'm sure they welcome an unplanned opportunity to keep their skills sharp. Many emergencies are infrequent enough that they must be simulated to keep people fresh on the procedures. I'm sure Mosie was an appreciative victim. Perhaps our commenters could be similarly grateful and show some forbearance.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

I believe that the rescue team exist to rescue HUMANS. And they are generally put in action to rescue HUMANS. That's why they're attached to AAFD/AAPD and not HSHV. HUMANS put their lives AT RISK in this situation that could have been so easily avoided I think it's great that they were able to save the dog, but let's not make stuff up.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

I am glad it turned out so well for everyone!


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.

This is an irresponsible dog owner whose negligence placed an animal in danger. She should be prosecuted and billed for the emergency services. A human being in need could have died if they were in need while emergency services were distracted by this dog owners neglect to realize she owns a dog, not a thinking being.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

Very lucky that the walker in the area happened to be a vet. Glad the dog is OK.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

At least the owner knew not to go out on the ice. So far I've heard of 2 dog owners this year that had to get rescued after falling in after trying to rescue their dogs. I'm sorry but dogs are animals and it's stupid to put yourself in a life-threatening situation to save an animal. I certainly hope those dog owners got billed for their dumb actions that cost the rescue departments valuable resources. I suggest Ann Arbor consider the cost of this rescue as well.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

Send the dog owner the bill, they broke the law and now want us tax payers to pay the bill. If the owner lives in this area they can surely afford it.

Cathy Theisen DVM

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

There was no "spin" by the owner, just a sincere realization of a mistake that could have been deadly. I am the one who took the pictures and suggested the story to I'd like to acknowledge the owner's courage in allowing us to get the word out to other pet owners, even though there is inevitably criticism. And I applaud our wonderful Police and Fire Depts, who were speedy, professional, and good-humored....I'm reassured to know they'll be there should I ever need them. Thank you, men and women who serve.....


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

To ALL dog owners. ALL parks in Ann Arbor require dogs on leash except for the official dog park. Leash laws are for the safety of all people and animals.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

"I'm reassured to know they'll be there should I ever need them" Not if they are rescuing dogs in the river, think about how long it would take for them to respond when they are geared up and in the river. All because some dog owner can't follow simple lease laws.


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

So the mistake was not following leash laws? Or is this park excluded from them, I am still not sure?

Kai Petainen

Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

ice coverage is pretty weak this year. look at this link... it shows median ice coverage vs. this year <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

Thank you AAFD, AAPD and the good doctor.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

Well good story,Question? I thought HVA had to show up before the AAFD? With the cutbacks in Fire protection,are any of the HVA personnel certified Divers?. HVA still dispatches for the AAFD right?. OOPS! should not have said that,City council will now mandate HVA to have certified divers to take more jobs out of the AAFD!!..I wish we had a choice in Ambulance services in Washtenaw County,HVA has the monoply on that..


Fri, Feb 3, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

No need for HVA to get into saving puppies in puddles and kitties in trees.. That's a job best left for the hero's..


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

A leash would have been nice and saved a lot of people risk and time. I thought dogs at Bandemer had to be on a leash, am I mistaken?


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.

I would like to know also. If it is, then this is a pretty good spin by the owner, to &quot;warn others about unpredictable situations&quot;