German Shepherd/Akita mix dog saved by Elyria firefighters from drowning in Black River

ELYRIA, Ohio - A 3-year-old German Shepherd/Akita mix was saved by Elyria firefighters from drowning on New Year's Eve.

Fire officials said a neighbor called them around 4:35 p.m. after hearing a dog barking and crying, apparently clinging onto ice in the Black River.

Rescue crews arrived to the 700 block of East Ave. five minutes after the initial call for help. That's where they found the dog hanging onto a chunk of ice, trying to avoid getting swept under water. Assistant Elyria Fire Chief Ron Brlas said the dog was suddenly seen by his fellow firefighters going under the surface, but popped back up, losing energy fast.

"Hypothermia sets in very quickly. There's a rule of thumb that a good swimmer can swim about 40 feet in 40 degree water and there's no way that the water right now is 40 degrees. So even a good swimmer could not swim very far," said Brlas. "Being a river that there's current that is unknown how fast it's going this time of year, you can easily get sucked beneath the ice."

Using an inflatable boat, rescuers were able to get to the pooch. They said the dog must've known he was getting rescued because he let go of the ice and swam toward the boat to get in.

Rescuers said the dog looked lethargic and appeared to be suffering from hypothermia. They suspect he got loose from his home and fell into the river but couldn't get back to shore because the ice kept breaking.

Brlas is quick to remind residents not to try to rescue anyone, or an animal by themselves. "Call 911 or your fire department immediately because we have the trained crews for such rescues. Do not attempt it yourself. More lives can easily be lost in strong currents like the Black River's."

Now at the Lorain County Dog Pound, the pooch is said to be in good health, is very well mannered and house trained. He was given some shots and antibiotics.

The water was between 20-30 degrees. Rescuers got to him around 5:15 p.m., but they aren't sure how long he was in the freezing water.

The dog does not have a microchip or tag on him. Nelson Delgado, a Lorain County Dog Warden deputy, said the dog will go up for adoption Saturday if no one claims him.

Dogs can be adopted for $29 at the Lorain Dog Kennel. Adoptions include license, shots, and all neuter and spay services.

The Lorain Dog Kennel can be found at 301 Hadaway St., Elyria. Their phone number is (440) 326-5995.

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