Watch Tip: Frozen Rivers, Lakes

Posted on January 7th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for week of Jan. 9:

Watch for dogs and cats anywhere near or on partially-frozen rivers and lakes; they can break through. Animals do not have an instinct that makes them wary of thin ice. Keep your pets leashed when you walk nearby. Speak with owners who let animals roam in risky areas.

Guess what! Animals don’t have a mysterious sixth sense for danger.

Most of us would react instantly if our child would wander near thin ice, but our society appears to have an unexamined belief that wild and domestic animals don’t need our guidance like children do. So we let them wander. We believe that animals have instincts that protect from danger, but we couldn’t be more wrong. Animals have accidents just like people do.

The annual winter onset of news articles about police and fire personnel rescuing dogs from thin ice has begun. Hopefully some most will live. An 8-year-old German Shepherd in New York survived his terrifying and frigid experience just today, thanks to “scuba cops.” He did suffer from hypothermia. Yesterday 11 firefighters rescued two Newfoundlands in Connecticut using cold water suits. Their owner had been warned about allowing his dogs to wander near a frozen lake but chose to ignore the advice.

The most tragic stories are of owners and dogs dying together. Owners attempt rescue and go through the ice too. Frigid water is deadly. If you see someone walking with an unleashed dog near ice, speak up. Say their dog could go through the ice. You might save a life. The firefighters and police will thank you too!

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