Firefighters Rescue Dogs

(Original text may be viewed here.)


27 January 1999:

Theresa Hawkesworth
Lighthouse staff

LUNENBURG - Man was dog's best friend last week as Lunenburg firefighters rescued two puppies from the Back Harbour.

Now those dogs need another friend.

When "Pete" and "Martha" fell through the ice near Sawpit Wharf January 21, Lunenburg firefighters responded.

They arrived with the department's Rescue Alive board and managed to pull the dogs to safety.

After the dogs recovered at dispatcher Randy Whynacht's home, they were taken to the Shelter for Homeless Animals in Distress (S.H.A.I.D.). Now they need homes.

"They're very nice dogs. They're very adoptable dogs," said Mr. Whynacht, who owns one of their litter mates. His company, Whynacht Security, dispatched the fire department after receiving two calls about the dogs.

"We had no qualms about paging this out as a water rescue page. The fire department rolled on it as if it were you or me in the water. They got there, they deployed without hesitation. They grabbed those dogs and got them out of the water," he said. "It was really quite impressive."

When the fire department arrived, the dogs were surrounded by ice about 100 feet from shore. Whining and barking, one unsuccessfully attempted to climb onto the ice.

"In this scenario the dogs were in pretty rough shape," said Mr. Whynacht. "One of them had gone under for the second time. He was getting pretty weak and unable to hang on much longer."

Firefighter John Lohnes manned the department's Rescue Alive board. The ice was so thin, the board would not slide across the ice as intended.

"The Rescue Alive board is built in such a way that you can basically run across the ice between the rails, but yesterday the ice was so thin, we had to physically break through the ice and push our way out," said Lunenburg Fire Chief Terry Conrad. "The kind of ice that we encountered yesterday is probably the most dangerous and hardest to recover type of ice that there is."

Whistling to lure the dogs closer, Mr. Lohnes pulled them on board. It took only seconds for firefighters on shore to pull them to safety.

"The retrieval is very, very quick," he said.

The Lunenburg Fire Department bought Rescue Alive just over a year ago after receiving an anonymous donation. Though firefighters have trained and practiced with it, Pete and Martha were their first live victims.

"We always knew we had the possibility to use it to save lives. I guess I never, ever thought that we would be out rescuing dogs on it, but I guess if we can rescue a dog, that can give us no help at all, rescuing a human should be much easier," said Mr. Conrad.

Knowing he would probably end up with the dogs overnight, Mr. Whynacht also responded to the call. He and his wife, who have four dogs of their own, often hold lost or stray dogs found in the Lunenburg-Mahone Bay area until the owner calls or the dog control officer can transport them to S.H.A.I.D.

"I was just arriving when the second dog was being pulled out of the water," he said. "They had been in the water for awhile."

Siblings, the six- to eight-month-old dogs are thought to be a cross between Black Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. Mr. Whynacht thinks the male fell through the ice first.

"The female recovered very quickly. It only took about half an hour and she was up wagging her tail and running around," he said. "The other one we worked on for at least an hour and he was still shivering after that."

Mr. Whynacht called veterinarian Dr. David Evans to make sure he was treating the dogs properly. The male, spastic, uncoordinated and shivering, was suffering from hypothermia so he held him, covered him with blankets and used a blow dryer, at low heat, to dry his fur.

"And a lot of comforting. In about an hour's time he was able to have a little something to eat, a little something to drink and about an hour after that he was up wagging his tail."

"(The next morning) they were bright eyed and bushy tailed," said Mr. Whynacht.

Police and South Shore Emergency Medical Care also responded to the call.

Contact

Mail:
17-450 LaHave Street,
Suite 111
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
B4V 4A3

Telephone:
902.634.8846

E-mail:
info@whynachtsecurity.ca