Eagan firefighters describe rescue of two dogs that fell through ice

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Photo: City of Eagan

Cheers rang out on the shorelines of East Thomas Lake Thursday morning around 8 a.m., as Eagan firefighters rescued two dogs that had fallen through the ice.

“I grabbed the dog by the collar and you can just see the immediate relief on the dogs face,” said firefighter Nate Voye. “They were so cold and shivering.”

One neighbor estimates the dogs were in the water for 20 minutes before help arrived. The only full-time fire crew working that morning happened to be returning from another call about a mile away when they got word about two dogs falling through the ice. 

“When we got to the shoreline, we could see one of the dogs was starting to struggle,” said Captain T.C. Schellinger. “It was an older dog. We better act fast.”

“You could see them both swimming, both frantic, obviously crying, wanting help,” said firefighter Jon Kemp.

The firefighters borrowed a neighbors canoe to help rescue the dogs, which were located about ten to fifteen yards off shore. Now the department says this close call is a reminder to all Minnesotans about the dangers of current thin ice.

“Even though it's iced over wear a life jacket," said Schellinger. “You just never know.

The DNR says there’s no sure answer of when ice is safe and people shouldn’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance.

The general ice thickness guidelines from the Minnesota DNR:

For new, clear ice only

2" or less - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.