Bruce the dog was out for a walk with puppy River, his thorough-bred daughter, on Wednesday afternoon when he decided to scamper across a frozen fishing lake at Green Lane, Horbury, before catapulting into the freezing water. The dog managed to get to the island at the centre of the lake - but it was thanks to River that help arrived quickly.
The eight-month-old puppy alerted professional dog walker Sharon Skinner to the danger Bruce was in, and she immediately rang West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS), who were there in minutes.
Firefighters have today praised her for ringing the emergency services rather than try and rescue him herself. This follows the shocking tragedy last weekend with the deaths of four young boys after they fell through frozen water in Solihull.
Ms Skinner, from Linton Road, Wakefield, said it was at the end of the walk when she was getting the dogs into the car that Bruce disappeared. “Bruce is usually well behaved, and loves getting into the car at the end of a walk, so when I turned around in the car park and he was gone I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I called out for him but couldn’t hear anything – it was his daughter River that alerted me to something being wrong. She was running towards me and then off towards the lake, wanting me to follow. She was clearly worried and so I got her into the car and then went to investigate.
“Bruce isn’t a fan of water, normally he would just have a paddle, so when I saw him on the island in the middle of the lake, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was distressed, but there was no way I could get into the water to help him, so I called the fire brigade. I’d seen in the paper and on TV how they have helped save pets, so I knew they were the best people to call.”
A crew from Ossett Fire Station received the call just after 1.30pm and were at the scene soon after. They used an inflatable sled to rescue the dog and had him back with Sharon shortly after 2pm.
Sharon said: “The rescue team were amazing. I was in such a panic I wasn’t functioning properly and couldn’t tell them where I was. They found me and were very quick rescuing Bruce. He can be unsure about going to strangers, and he was so worried that he started to get back into the water. However, they grabbed him and gave him a warm cuddle as they brought him back – I think he was just as relieved as me.
“I’ve been a professional dog walker for five years and this is the first big incident I’ve had – and I’ve got a soft spot for Bruce as he’s a very loving dog. I’ve been walking Bruce for his family for a long time now, and his daughter River is my dog.
“A big thank you to the fire crew that saved Bruce. Every dog is special, but River showed just how much she loves her dad when she pointed me in the right direction.”
Station manager Richard Hawley was the technical rescue officer at the scene. “The dog walker had been thinking of going into the water to rescue Bruce, but thankfully she called us instead,” he said. “It was positive to hear from her that our warnings about being careful around icy water are having an impact. Dog walkers should always make sure that if their pet gets into trouble, they contact us straight away. We were able to break the ice and get the inflatable sled through the water to rescue Bruce and get him to safety. However, if someone had gone into the freezing water to try and rescue him, we could have been dealing with a very different story today.”