Sandusky police help rescue dog from ice

SANDUSKY, Ohio-- Alexis Pitcher says her two dogs, a black lab named Tucker and a German shepherd named Apollo, were able to get out of her Sandusky house on Monday. A friend came to visit and the door was left open wide enough for them to get out.

"They booked it. Both of them. When they both get out, they just run together. Its like they are a pack," Pitcher said.

She called animal control for some help getting them back while Sandusky police also got a call about dogs running loose.

Officer Brett Bird said he was looking for the dogs when a man flagged him down about 2 miles away at the Jackson Street Pier.

The officer's body camera reveals what he saw. Apollo was on the thin ice.

"So when I first get here, I'm kind of thinking, 'Oh crap, that's not on really a great spot on the ice' because you can see right there it's open water. So its not thick ice. The last thing we want it to do is fall in because it's not like a human we can throw a rope to," Bird said.

On his camera, you can see and hear the officers calling out to the dog. Some are offering treats. Others are trying to lure him with bacon.

Bird said the dog was not responding to any of their attempts.

"You could tell it was scared, it couldn't walk very well especially on this portion of the ice. It was very slippery," Bird said.

The officers knew the ice would not support them. Bird said he also knew if Apollo fell through the ice into the freezing water, he would most likely have been dead in moments without anyone being able to do anything for him.

Sandusky Police Chief John Orzech said his department has responded to only one other such rescue in his 21 years there. The decision of what to do is not taught in police academy.

"We try to stress to the officers to do safe things and not to go overboard. So you know with the weather here, stay out of the weather as much as you can, not put themselves in harm's way, that's not going to jeopardize themselves and I think they were," Orzech said.

Meanwhile, Pitcher said she got a call from the animal warden telling her about the rescue and went to the scene.

Pitcher said the reason Apollo most likely was not responding to anyone else was because he had been beaten as a puppy and she learned after her family adopted him that he had trust problems with strangers.

With her help, officers were able to coax theĀ German shepherd to safe ice on the edge of the bay and pull him to safety.

"I was really, very, very relieved that I found him, and we got him in the car and he was home safe," Pitcher said.

Bird, who has a dog of his own, said he was relieved as well.

"That's a first for me and hopefully, I don't have any more. We could have been dealing with a dead dog instead of a live dog, and a happy one at that," Bird said.

"Even though it was an animal, it's still somebody's pet or most people like their pets more than they like people, right? So it's a good story with a very happy ending," Orzech said.

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