Dog rescued after falling in frozen Lake Fayetteville while chasing ducks, officials say

Officials explain that an ice rescue is taken very seriously and requires a full response from the department which is about 15 emergency responders.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Fayetteville firefighters made three icy water rescues in as many days at Lake Sequoyah and Lake Fayetteville due to people and animals falling through the ice on the frozen lakes.

On Thursday, Jan. 18, an emergency team rescued a dog who fell into the icy water at Lake Fayetteville. Monroe, a German shepherd was chasing ducks when he fell through the ice “about 75 yards from the shore,” according to the Fayetteville Fire Department (FFD). 

FFD said when they arrived at the scene, Monroe was “struggling and nearly exhausted.” An emergency responder who was equipped with a dry suit braved the cold and safely rescued Monroe. 

FFD said Monroe is now back at home with her owner and uninjured. 

Capt. Kevin Sbanotto explained ice rescues are taken very seriously and require a full response from the department, meaning around 15 emergency responders suit up to help. 

“We do have special wet suits or dry suits that are able to withstand the cold for a little bit, but we’re not equipped for a full-blown ice rescue as they would be more up north,” Capt. Sbanotto said. “We can withstand some cold temperatures and be able to provide a rescue. We do have boats in service, and we do have personal protective equipment that we can wear to go rescue you, but it is gonna require a heavy manpower and put ourselves in danger as well.”

Capt. Sbanotto said while it does get cold enough in Northwest Arkansas for the lakes to freeze, that does not mean the ice is thick enough to hold the weight of a human or animal. It is important to be cautious, because looks can be deceiving, especially when the layer of ice on the water is covered with snow. 

“It’s gonna look like good ice, but it’s not gonna be safe enough to walk on, and it’s not gonna be thick enough that we can safely go across that ice,” said Capt. Sbanotto. 

Firefighters said avoiding walking on any frozen body of water saves you and them from an unfortunate or life-threatening situation. 

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