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Firefighters rescue two dogs from Thunder Bay River

Courtesy Photo Firefighters from the Alpena Fire Department rescue a dog after it fell through the ice on the Thunder Bay River in this January 2021 News file photo.

ALPENA — Firefighters do more than rescue people when they are in peril.

They also put themselves at risk to help protect animals that find themselves in dangerous situations.

That happened Friday.

A pair of huskies were playing on the ice on the Thunder Bay River off of Long Rapids Road when one of them fell through thin ice and into the frigid water.

Someone who saw the dog struggling to stay afloat called 911 and city emergency medical services crews responded from the Alpena Township north-side fire station, where they are temporarily providing staffing.

Fire Chief Bill Forbush said the call came in at 2:34 p.m. When firefighters arrived, one dog was in the water and another on the ice near it. He said firefighter/paramedic Chris Morrison, wearing gear to protect him from the cold, went into the water, swam out to the dog, and, with assistance from his teammates on shore, brought the animal to safety.

This video provided by the Alpena Fire Department shows the rescue of two dogs from the icy Thunder Bay River. Viewing on mobile? Turn your device horizontally for the best viewing experience. Story continues below video.

Forbush said the rescue took 22 minutes from the time the call came in to get the dog on shore.

The two dogs got to warm up in one of the ambulances before being turned over to Alpena County Animal Control. Forbush said the dogs didn’t have any tags on them, but a neighbor in the area may have known who the dog’s owner was.

Forbush said many people don’t realize how often firefighters and police officers rescue animals. He said dogs and cats are frequently saved during fires, or from falling through the ice. Doing so, he said, helps to prevent people who aren’t trained to perform such rescues in unsafe situations from trying to do it themselves and putting themselves in harm’s way.

“It is an important service we offer, because, if we don’t do it, someone else who is untrained and doesn’t have the proper equipment is going to try to go get the animals,” he said. “That can cause serious injuries to them, or even a loss of life.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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