THUNDER BAY – City firefighters pulled off an unusual ice rescue on Wednesday afternoon.
Thunder Bay Fire Rescue crews were called to the area of the Jackknife bridge near New Vickers Street at about 2 p.m., after passersby noticed a dog stranded on a piece of ice on the Kaministiquia River.
"The dog was not able to get off the ice floe by itself. It didn't want to get into the water so we went down with our ice rescue equipment," district chief John Kaplanis said.
"This is a little bit of a one-off thing. We don't typically respond to animal rescue calls but of course in this case, the dog was certainly a viable rescue for us and a relatively easy evolution for our ice rescue team."
Kaplanis said the two-man crew had the dog off the ice in about 10 minutes.
While he acknowledged it wasn't a call where firefighters would typically respond, there was a risk that somebody would take matters into their own hands.
"That keeps other bystanders from making an attempt to be a good samaritan and try to rescue the dogs themselves," Kaplanis said. "We didn't want that to happen so we took it upon ourselves to do that."
Once the dog was brought off the ice, firefighters learned that people in the area were looking for two lost dogs. People searching for the dogs found the firefighters around the same time the pooch was retrieved and brought up onto the roadway.
A woman who was aware of the search took the dogs to be reunited with their owner.
"It was a happy outcome at the end for the dog," Kaplanis said, adding the dogs had likely chased deer on Mission Island to end up at the river.
While Kaplanis said there have not been any calls for ice rescues for humans, it's not a safe time for people to be venturing out on the ice.
"The ice conditions are breaking up rather quickly with the overnight temperatures getting a little bit warmer and combining that with some rain," Kaplanis said. "The ice conditions are certainly precarious and unsafe. We advise the public to stay away from local waterways for the time being."