Two dogs survive icy water; third dies
JANESVILLE Tracy Grover was headed to the store when she saw the dogs on the Traxler Park Lagoon ice Sunday morning.
The trio had almost crossed the ice when they changed direction and fell into the open water near the culvert that connects the lagoon to the nearby Rock River.
Grover, who was crossing the Veterans Memorial Bridge at about 10:45 a.m., stopped and called 911.
"I have dogs, so I couldn't let them just drown," she said.
Firefighters arrived and soon fished one dog out of the water with a snare pole. A second dog went through the culvert to the river and was clinging to the ice. That dog later escaped, fleeing a firefighter who was trying to help.
The third dog was nowhere to be seen.
A firefighter donned a rescue suit and waded into the open water near the culvert. He soon found the third dog, drowned in the water.
"This guy, he went under three times. I thought he was gone," Grover said of the dog that was rescued.
Grover shed tears for the one that didn't make it. Minutes later, the owners showed up, a man and woman. The woman sobbed uncontrollably. The man soon set out to find the missing dog.
The dogs appeared to be pit bulls. The male owner, who was sodden with rain as he desperately searched for the third dog, said the three were "show dogs." He could not be reached for comment later.
None of the dogs had collars, firefighters said.
Janesville Fire Department Shift Cmdr. Bill Ruchti said it's easier to grab a dog with a hook if the dog is wearing a collar.
Firefighters put the rescued dog into a fire truck cab to keep it warm, later turning it over to the family. One firefighter ran up with a blanket as they took the dog to their car.
"Get that one warmed up. He needs it," she said.
Ice could be treacherous for animals or people this week, with high temperatures predicted to be above the freezing point.
"I have to commend the woman that called it in. She was wise enough not to go out on the ice herself without any protective flotation equipment," Ruchti said.
"It's tragic to lose an animal, but it would be even more tragic to lose a person."