Sag Harbor Fire Department Dive Team Rescue Retriever From Icy Waters

Posted on 12 February 2014

Heller_SHFD Ice Rescue 2-8-14_9259_LR


As fire department and ambulance members render aid, member Stephen Hesler holds and comforts a dog that was rescued by the Sag Harbor Fire Department Dive Team after it had fallen through the ice off of Bayview Court in North Haven on Saturday.

By Michael Heller

Members of the Sag Harbor Fire Department Dive Team braved cold temperatures last weekend to save a two-year-old golden retriever that was struggling in the icy water of Noyac Bay off North Haven.

On Saturday, the dive team was called to Bayview Court after receiving a report that a dog had fallen through the ice. First responders found the retriever with only his head above water roughly 50 yards offshore, barking and crying as he struggled to stay afloat.

A boat was dispatched into the bay with dive team members Alex Smith and Scott Fordham aboard, with dive team member Rich Simmons swimming ahead, breaking the ice by hand so that the boat could proceed.

Mr. Simmons soon reached the canine. After loading him into the boat, the team brought him to shore and into the waiting arms of Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps personnel, who warmed the dog before turning him over to the Southampton Town Animal Control office.

The dog was taken to the East End Veterinary Emergency Center In Riverhead for further treatment.

Attending veterinarian Dr. Gal Vatash reported that the dog, Morgan, was close to death after having been in the frigid water for roughly 45 minutes, and was suffering from petechiae—a low blood platelet count—and hypothermia, with a body temperature below 90 degrees.

“He was definitely looking at the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Vatash.

After an overnight treatment of plasma and warm fluids, however, Morgan was released to his owners the following afternoon, and “…went home wagging his tail.”

Dr. Vatash credited the members of the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Ambulance Corps with saving the dog’s life, as well as simple good luck: He was spotted out on the ice when a family just happened to come down to the shoreline to take some photos and spied the animal in distress. He also credited the use of a microchip embedded in Morgan’s skin for enabling his office to locate and reunite him with his owner.

Dr. Vatash said he would encourage all pet owners to microchip their animals as a protective measure.

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13 Responses to “Sag Harbor Fire Department Dive Team Rescue Retriever From Icy Waters”

  1. sandi kruel says:

    Simply the most amazing people here!!! Thanks to all!!!

  2. Ellen Heller says:

    Sag Harbor has the best volunteers and we’re fortunate to have Gal and his team at the East End Veterinary Emergency Center!

  3. LI Duck says:

    Over the years I have seen dogs running on ice around the waterfront and it always gives me the creeps as it is salt water. Thumbs up to SHFD for this rescue.

  4. John Basti says:

    Great job! Wonderful that you were able to save the life of “mans best friend”.
    In the true spirit of rescue, the selflessness of the firemen shines through despite the personal risk to himself to save “life”, any life. Bravo! Sagharbor Volunteer Firemen.

  5. Max says:

    Great job SHFD!!!!

  6. Cathy Springer says:

    Sag Harbor Fire Department gets an A+++++++ from me. It’s not their job to save animals, but they did it anyway and under terrible conditions. You guys are GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Debbie Downer says:

    How much did animal control fine the owners of the dog?

  8. Barbara Wolfram says:

    So beautiful to see such compassion on the part of the Sag Harbor
    Fire Dept. and Ambulance Team…………special place in heaven for all you

  9. Great job Morgan is lucky dog.

  10. Charlot Taylor says:

    Great job, guys! I would expect nothing less.
    All animals, wild and domesticated depend on us
    now. Thanks for being your best selves abd getting
    the job done! Morgan is a lucky pooch. Timing is
    everything and you made it in time. XO

  11. Charlot Taylor says:

    Oh, and a Big Salute to the family who spotted Morgan
    and acted on it. Without them, there would have been
    No Survival Story to warm people’s hearts. XO to the fam!

  12. Low Tide says:

    Tip of the hat to the dive team. Nice work! and a big raspberry to the dog’s owners

    The first Labrador that I trained when I got my hunting License at 16 was Captain Nemo. Apt name as during winter duck hunts he had a habit of going under the ice after cripples and truth be told it was a little nerve-wracking but I had faith in the training that I gave him. once told to stay he would not budge for anything. Not even the bark of a 10 gauge would move him off his spot until he was given one of a number of release commands … some verbal Fetch, Hi-on, kennel-up, etc. Some hand signs (Just a flick of the wrist would send him out of the blind) or by whistle.

    I guess my long winded point is that having a dog in the family is as big a responsibility as having children and they deserve the same amount of care and teaching… In fact bringing up a good dog is probably easier.

    In this case a not so well trained pet bolted from a car and disappeared eventually putting some great people at some risk …. (Yeah I know Rich, you’re a bloody seal!). If they haven’t already the owners should chew on that thought for a bit and find a good book on dog training.

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