Dog saved from icy river in Benton Harbor Township

Ice rescue crew saves dog from ice in Paw Paw River, Coast Guard says

(Credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station St. Joseph)
(Credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station St. Joseph) (U.S. Coast Guard)

BENTON HARBOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A dog was rescued Saturday by an an ice rescue crew from the ice in the Paw Paw River in Benton Harbor Township, the Coast Guard said.

Officials said a watchstander overheard on a scanner after 11 a.m. Saturday that the Berrien County Sheriff's Department was responding to a report of a German Shepherd stranded on the ice.

An ice rescue team from Coast Guard Station St. Joseph was already out training and was directed to respond by the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan Command Center in Milwaukee, officials said.

When the crew arrived where other response agencies had gathered, it was determined that the other personnel were not equipped to safely conduct the rescue, according to the Coast Guard. The dog was on the ice 8 feet from the shore.

The crew was able to comfort the dog, place a leash on it and safely escort him off the river ice with the help of an animal control officer who provided food, the Coast Guard said.

The dog had initially been seen walking along the river on its own with no one in sight, officials said.

"Countless hours of training contributed to a successful rescue of this dog," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Butler, who was one of the rescuers at Coast Guard Station St. Joseph. "Despite only training to rescue humans, many of the same techniques and precautions are applicable to animals and are performed to save them if safe to do so. This was proven today."

The Coast Guard said it strongly encourages pet owners to keep a close eye on their pets this time of year to prevent similar situations.

"Should something like this occur, call the local authorities and do not attempt to rescue the dog," the Coast Guard said. "Bystanders are most helpful by keeping their eyes on the animal that is in immediate danger."

The dog was being checked by animal control for a microchip in an attempt to find an owner. The Coast Guard said Station St. Joseph planned to keep in touch with local animal control regarding the microchip scan.