Rescue crew pulls dog out of icy Thompson

JASON HEWLETT / Kamloops Daily News
January 25, 2011 01:00 AM

Kamloops Fire and Rescue crew members prepare to pull Lily the dog out of the river ice.

The frightened whimpers of her beloved dog were almost enough to prompt Linda Gagne to charge out onto the Thompson River ice to save the pet.

But passerby Terry Butcher, concerned about the brittleness of the ice, convinced Gagne and her sister, Helen Cameron, to phone Fire and Rescue for help instead.

"I'd do anything for my dog," a relieved Gagne said once the border collie, Lily, was back on dry land.

Gagne and Cameron drove to Kamloops from Chase to apply for their passports for a summer trip to Alaska. They had Lily and Gagne's other dog, Lizzie, with them.

They stopped at Riverside Park so Cameron could use the washroom. Lily spotted some birds near the river and ran at them as soon as Gagne opened the vehicle's door.

She ran after the animal but stopped her pursuit when she saw Lizzie running after her. Desperate to keep control of one of the dogs, Gagne led Lizzie back to the vehicle.

Cameron was in the washroom and heard her sister's cries for help.

Lily had scampered onto the ice by the time she joined Gagne. The dog's legs had crashed through and she was unable to crawl out of the water, she said.

"Her backside would not come up," said Cameron.

The dog whined for help. Gagne said she was about to take off her shoes and socks and crawl onto the river to get Lily when Butcher, the New Life Mission's outreach director, asked her to stop.

Butcher was taking pictures of new executive director Kelly Rowe when he saw the drama unfold. He told Gagne the ice was too thin and the water too cold for her to risk going onto the river.

"Let me call the fire department instead," said Butcher.

Fire and Rescue arrived within minutes. Members of the ice rescue team carried a ladder down the embankment to the river. One firefighter slipped on the ice while climbing down.

Firefighters placed a ladder across the ice, walked across it, and scooped Lily from the water. The happy dog ran to Gagne for a pet then to each of the firefighters and bystanders.

"She's thanking everyone," said a man who stopped to watch.

Fire and Rescue assistant chief Dave McMahon said it's a good thing Gagne didn't go onto the ice herself. If it is too brittle to hold a dog, there's no way a person could brave it.

"People will do anything for an animal. They will put themselves at a real risk," he said.

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