“The dog was sitting kind of nice and peaceful but he was far out,” said Marine Unit Police Officer Nial Funchion, who helped get the pooch to safety. “I was amazed he was lasting so long. . .He was out there for hours.”
The dog, a 1-year-old shepherd mix, was about 300 yards out into the harbor when he caught the eye of someone on shore around 7:30 a.m., police said. A team from the Chicago Police Marine Unit arrived in minutes, soon joined by media trucks and helicopters.
The animal seemed unfazed by the subzero temperatures as he laid claim to a patch of ice that was only about 2 inches thick, Funchion said. But the dog did seem wary of the growing number of people lining up on the shoreline, he said.
The officers initially tried to corral the dog to one side of a pier to keep it from moving toward open water, Funchion said. “That’s where the geese were. We were trying to keep him from going that route.”
When the dog stubbornly stayed in the middle of the harbor, Funchion gingerly stepped out on the ice in his cold weather gear. He and other officers tried to shoo the dog toward the shore several times, only to have him veer back toward the geese.
“He got close a couple times but we were trying to nudge him the rest of the way,” Funchion said.
Finally, after three hours, they got the dog close enough so city animal control officers could shoot a tranquilizer dart at him. Funchion said he was able to pick the sleeping animal from the ice and hand it off to the animal control officers.
The office is now trying to find the owner of the dog, which had no tags or other identification. Police said the dog appeared well taken care of.
“It turned out nice,” Funchion said. “It’s a good exercise because if that was a human being and they fell through, we would crawl out and grab that person.”
He reminded people not to go after animals on the ice. “The ice is just forming, it’s really dangerous at this time of the year,” Funchion said. “It’s very elusive. People fall through and they may not last long.”