An 11-year-old Coonhound named Bart had a close call after he ran away from his owner and fell into a freezing river near the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area in Rockwood, Michigan.
Jim Swayze was out on his daily walk with his four dogs when Bart got away. He immediately leashed his other three dogs and went after Bart. But by the time Jim found him, he had become half submerged in the icy waters, his front paws clinging to the edge. Jim stayed with Bart but could not reach him and called his wife who called 911. "I tried to walk around to him and it was just too deep, and I couldn't get to him," Jim told WXYZ.
Jim's cousin Lance Eicher arrived before rescue crews. He donned hip waders and crawled on his belly across the ice after Bart. The ice broke and he ended up standing in three and a half feet deep water. He lifted the dog out onto the ice, held him close and tried to keep him warm by rubbing him. "I was talking to [Bart]," Lance said. "...I was trying to rub him and get some blood flowing through his body."
By the time rescuers came to the pair with a boat to pull them to safety, the dog had been in the water for 1.5 hours. A news chopper from 7 Action News took footage of their dramatic rescue.
Jim is very thankful for everyone's help and that Bart is doing well, wrapped warmly in a pile of blankets and back at home. Lance said he doesn't regret going in after the dog. "I kind of looked and said, 'What if this was my dog? What if I was in the same situation?'," he said. "I would hope somebody would try to do the same thing."
Jim said he'll continue to walk the dogs in the same area but from now on all four will be on leash. Watch video footage of Lance, Bart and their rescue below.
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