Firefighters have bravely ventured out into thawing ice-covered lakes and rivers to rescue at least five animals since the weekend.
Crews from Irthlingborough, Rushden and Wellingborough have been called to rescue two horses in Great Doddington, a dog in the river between Great Doddington and Earls Barton, a dog in Irthlingborough and a third dog in Sywell.
The latest rescue at Sywell Country Park took place on Tuesday lunchtime when a black spaniel chased after some ducks along the ice before crashing through the surface about 60 metres away from the water’s edge.
Group manager Luke Hodson said: “The dog was struggling to get out and was in a poor state. Our swimmers went out in their dry suits attached to a line and it took them 15 minutes to break their way through the ice and reach the dog. The dog had gone under several times and was really distressed. Our crews pulled the swimmers and the dog out of the water and once we got the dog back we wrapped it in a space blanket to keep it warm on the way to the vets. Fortunately, the dog’s doing well.”
Mr Hodson hopes the incident will warn animal owners about the dangers of thawing ice. Unfortunately, one of the dogs the firefighters have rescued in the past few days later died because of hyperthermia.
Mr Hodson said: “The ice is thawing which makes it very dangerous. A young dog may enjoy chasing after ducks and where it may have chased after them over the ice in the past few days that ice is now melting. We’d urge owners to restrain their dogs so they don’t get into that position.”
However, Mr Hodson added if an animal becomes trapped in the ice it is important their owner rings the fire service straight away and does not attempt to rescue them.
He said: “Our crews take reasonable risks to save the lives of humans or animals. If being cold or uncomfortable for an hour means we can save a life that’s what we’ll do because that’s what we’re here for.
“Once an animal or a person is through the ice the shock of the water makes them draw a sharp intake of breath and they don’t have the energy to get themselves out. It’s really important that if an animal can’t get out within a minute or two the owner calls us immediately so we can get there and get our equipment ready.”