Coast Guard rescues ‘escape artist’ dog from ice

Published 12:54 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Call it a soggy dog story.

Tongues continue to wag about a runaway dog’s impromptu polar plunge into icy Betsie Bay since a video of its Tuesday morning rescue by a U.S. Coast Guard officer spread across the Internet. Oliver Art Center Executive Director Steve Brown captured footage that shows Petty Officer 3rd Class Tim Putnam pull the frosty pooch to safety.

“It’s good the dog video gives people just a little chance to see their bravery,” Brown said of Putnam and other Coast Guard officers.

Putnam said it was lucky happenstance that they saw the dog jump into the ice-choked water and that the animal was so close to the Coast Guard station. 

“One of our crew members just happened to be looking out the window in a meeting and saw the dog jump in,” he said.

 He walked out the station’s door, strapped on a tether and other rescue gear, and dove into the water.

It took Putnam about 20 minutes to navigate the slabs of ice to make it to the dog, which he could see shivering even from the shore. 

“It was really a grueling sort of thing to watch,” Brown said.

But Putnam eventually completed the tortuous trek reaching the animal “just in time.” He said the dog appeared to know its rescue was at hand, moved toward his arms, and then rode back as Putnam’s Coast Guard colleagues pulled them to shore by a rope.

Benzie County animal control officer Ed Carter credited the Coast Guard with saving the dog’s life, though he noted it had a quick recovery. He took the dog to a veterinarian after the rescue and found its body temperature had fallen a degree or two.

The dog quickly became the shelter’s most famous animal, thanks to the notoriety from the rescue video. That video, when posted on the Oliver Art Center’s Facebook page, quickly went viral and attracted national attention.

Carter said that helped alert the dog’s owner, who collected the dog at about 7 p.m. He said the owner, who had been at work, said the five-year-old female dog, Bailey, frequently runs loose.

“The dog is an escape artist, it opens door knobs,” Carter said. “She showed me the door the dog keeps opening.”

As for Putnam he’s glad he and his colleagues were able to help reunite pet and owner. 

“I saw her this morning,” he said. “She gave me a big hug and thanked me,”

Troutman writes for the Traverse City (Mich.) Record-Eagle.