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Police, Firefighters stage rescue to save dog from icy Kootenay Lake

Nelson Fire Rescue Captain Scott Jeffery and NPD Sergeant Brian Weber were part of a Friday rescue on Kootenay Lake Friday that saved a dog in distress. — Submitted photo

Nelson Fire and Nelson Police released a joint media release Friday, documenting the dramatic rescue of a dog that had fallen off an anchored sailboat into Kootenay Lake near the Lakeside Soccer Fields.

According to the release, Nelson Police Department officers and firefighters from Nelson Fire Rescue responded to the call around 5 p.m. after a women contacted NPD dispatch of a dog in distress on Kootenay Lake.

"She was confused as she was calling about a dog in distress," the release said. "As she was calling about a dog she did not know if she required police, fire or ambulance. The calm voice of the police dispatcher convinced her to tell her story and he could dispatch the appropriate service."

The release said the concerned caller reported that she had been walking along the shoreline at the Lakeside soccer fields when she became aware of a dog on a sailboat anchored offshore. The caller thought the dog had fallen off of the boat and into the water.

"It appeared to be in considerable trouble even though it seemed to be tethered to the vessel," the release said. "At first the dog barked and frantically splashed in the water, but the noise had stopped. The caller sadly reported the dog had, “gone silent”. She feared the dog had perished."

Nelson Fire Rescue Service and Nelson Police were dispatched to respond, with Constable Shawn Zukowski attending the shoreline to gather more information while Acting Captain Scott Jeffery and Sergeant Brian Weber boarded the joint rescue boat and motored to the anchored sailboat on Kootenay Lake. 

"Fortunately, the fire department and police department had conducted some joint training on the rescue boat earlier in the day," the release said.

From the shore, Constable Zukowski was able to locate the boat in question, conducting a field interview with the caller and illuminated the moored sailboat utilizing the spot light on the police vehicle. 

He reported to Jeffery and Weber that the dog was in fact alive and tethered to the boat. However, Zukowski said the dog was partially submerged in the icy cold water and was still in mortal danger.

"The joint rescue operation was on scene within two minutes of being launched," the release said. "Sgt Weber and Acting Captain Jeffery located the boat and dog. While Jeffery expertly maneuvered the boat, Weber took hold of the cold, wet dog. 

"Together, the crew unhooked the dog from the sailboat and coaxed it aboard the rescue boat.  Once aboard the dog shook itself dry, drenching the rescue crew."

Police boarded the sailboat and found it to be unoccupied. It appeared as if the dog owner had tethered the dog to the boat with a rope and harness. Somehow, the dog escaped from the cabin and fell or jumped overboard.

Police said had the caring citizen not noticed the dog in distress or failed to report he situation to the police the dog may have not survived.

The mature golden dog recovered safely at Nelson Police before the owner attended to retrieve his animal. The circumstance will be fully investigated by the Nelson Police Department with the assistance of the BC SPCA.

"Your police and fire professionals would like to thank the quick thinking citizen whose actions saved the life of the fortunate dog," the release said.