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Firefighters save dog from frozen lake

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: GARY MCQUEEN - Black Labrador Mango struggles to get free from the mud and water and ice in the middle of Hope Lake, while two firefighters chop their way through the 2-inch-thick ice to rescue the dog. In the boat are Sandy firefighter Colin Olcott, left, and Captain Scott Howland.Hope Lake near Southeast Wildcat Mountain Road was the scene for hope itself this morning after Sandy Fire District rescue personnel saved a whimpering dog that had fallen through the ice.

"We got the call about 8:30 a.m. (Thursday, Jan. 24) at a time where we were going on several reports of car crashes," Fire Chief Gary McQueen said. "The roads all iced up at the same time this morning."

Tied up with motor vehicle accidents, Chief McQueen couldn't spare any men until accident sites were cleaned up, and in the meantime, Mango the black lab was clinging to the ice 40 feet from shore.

When crews arrived and got to the edge of the water, they could see Mango's two front legs and torso resting on the ice, while his back half was in the water.

"The water was only about a foot deep," McQueen said. "But the mud was about 12 to 18 inches deep."

For that reason, firefighters were unable to enter the lake for fear of getting stuck or even worse, injured. That was not an option for Chief McQueen.

Luckily, a nearby neighbor offered his assistance.

"The witness told us he had a boat at his house that we could use, and I said please go get it," McQueen explained. "He brought it back and we drug this 12-foot aluminum fishing boat down to the lake."

From there, a crew boarded the boat and used an ax and rubbish hook to break away the ice slowly but surely until they reached Mango.

"It took about 10 minutes to get out to Mango, but the second we got there he quieted down and they pulled him in the boat," McQueen said. "He sat very quietly and we got him to shore."

When McQueen and his firefighters arrived it was apparent from the crying that Mango was in trouble.

"When we got there, there was no way we were going to leave that dog in the lake. We could hear him crying and wailing for help. We could even hear him chattering, he was that cold," he said, also admitting that him and the crew were all dog lovers.

Once on shore Mango made a pretty quick recovery.

"We got him on shore and wrapped him in a blanket with hot packs and just started petting him and warming him up, and about 10 minutes later he jumped up out of the blanket, ran and grabbed a stick and wanted to play. He was feeling pretty good about that time," McQueen said.