Dog is rescued from chilly Milwaukee River

CREATED Feb 9, 2013

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GLENDALE - Firefighters braved potentially dangerous conditions to save a stranded dog.

"It's amazing."

Mike Hibe can't believe the pictures.

North Shore firefighters rescued his family dog, Lucy, from an ice shelf three days after she disappeared.

"I'm thinking how did she get there?"

The short-hair pointer mix ran away Wednesday night from her Glendale home.

"I was shoveling, shoveling, pretty soon I turn around and she's gone," Hibe recalled.

His family followed her paw prints for about ten blocks until they ended.

When Lucy failed to come back by morning Mike filed a missing dog report.

But, he started to give up hope of ever seeing her again.

Lucy's just 20 pounds and weathered our biggest storm of the season -- outdoors.

"I was thinking she wouldn't have survived outside this long. That's a long time for that little dog to be out in the cold."

A resident found Lucy near Bender Road and Milwaukee River Parkway Saturday morning; a mile and a half from home, stranded on the river. They heard her barking.

"There was an area where the ice was connected to land but especially in an area where you have flowing water the ice can be very unstable," explained Lt. Scott Gonwa with the North Shore Fire Department.

The rescue crew knew they had to get to the dog quickly before someone else tried to. His engine unit suited up and jumped into the icy water to rescue Lucy.

"We were very concerned that someone would try to go out there themselves and get the dog and end up in trouble themselves," said Gonwa.

Firefighter Charlie Baldarotta was one of two who were in wet suits.

"Luckily the water wasn't extremely deep however you could feel the swiftness of the river."

While Lucy was shaking and scared, she finally allowed rescuers to grab her.

"You could tell she was happy to be in human arms again and we're just glad she got back home," said Baldarotta.

And back at home, Lucy is catching up on sleep and dinner while owner Mike Hibe considers just how lucky Lucy is.

"It's amazing those firemen go out into that water and do that. That's pretty neat," Hibe said.

Lt. Gonwa reminds residents to never try a rescue on their own. Call the professionals who have the training and equipment.