May 22, 2019 2:05 pm

Firefighters rescue missing B.C. dog from frozen lake

A photo of the missing dog prior to it being rescued from a frozen lake at Big White Ski Resort east of Kelowna.

Big White Fire Department

A B.C. dog missing for five days was rescued from the frozen grips of an icy lake on Monday afternoon.

The rescue took place at Big White Ski Resort, east of Kelowna, where the sled dog was stranded on the frozen ice of Lake Paul. The lake is located next to the Powder Chairlift.

A hiker spotted the dog around 2:30 p.m., and Big White firefighters quickly responded.

Big White firefighters gather for a photo after rescuing the missing dog from Lake Paul on Monday afternoon.

Big White Fire Department

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“(The hiker) called 911, and we were paged out,” said Big White fire Chief James Svendsen. “Basically, one of our guys swam out and got the dog.

“We harnessed him all up, and he swam out with a rubber tire inner tube, put the dog in it and brought him back to the shore.”

The fire department said the stranded dog — which went missing from Candle Creek Kennels — was cold, hungry and unable to swim and that it had narrowly escaped death.

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After the dog was brought to shore, rescue crews wrapped it in blankets and put the dog in a heated truck. The fire department said that within 20 minutes, the dog started warming up.

“Time was of the essence,” said Svendsen. “He was very stressed. I would say hypothermia was setting in. (The dog) would have died out there, for sure.

“After he started warming up, you could see the life coming back into his eyes.”

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The fire department returned the dog to its owners, who were said to be ecstatic and very thankful, fearing that the dog had been forever lost.

Svendsen noted that had it been a more technical rescue, the Kelowna Fire Department would have been called in. However, two of Big White’s firefighters are trained in basic ice rescue.

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The fire chief also issued a reminder to Big White hikers to stay on open trails and to keep their dogs leashed while on the mountain.

“It’s very dangerous up here right now,” said Svendsen. “There’s a lot of water running under the snow and the ice.

“Dogs off leash, they go running, and there’s lots of wildlife so if they get distracted, they could easily fall through.”

To read more about hiking safety at Big White, click here.

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