MILWAUKEE -- First responders with the United States Coast Guard and Milwaukee police on Wednesday morning, March 20 raced to rescue a small dog that ended up in the Milwaukee River.
FOX6 viewers Beckie Josephitis and Desiree Schocko shared video of the rescue with us.
At first, witnesses thought it might have been a person stuck on the ice. Police quickly called for backup. The Coast Guard arrived and soon, hundreds of people were lining the Riverwalk to watch what happened next. They held their breath as the tiny dog tip-toed onto narrow, thin ice in the middle of the river.
"I wouldn't want my dog to be out there. I wasn't about to let this dog go into the ice and lose his life," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas Ditch with the Coast Guard.
When the Coast Guard arrived, the challenge wasn't just saving the dog -- but getting to the animal. The dog was scrambling through ice, twigs and other debris, seemingly evading rescuers. At one point, the animal ended up in the water.
"Our inflatable boat doesn't really go over that kind of stuff. That was a big challenge," said Seaman Jonathan Nolan with the Coast Guard.
Nolan ditched the inflatable raft and jumped in.
"Then I just had to push through all the ice. I tried to make a pathway -- breaking ice," said Ditch.
As Ditch got within arm's reach, the dog darted away.
"'Please don't do this,' you know? 'We're trying to save you and you're just running away from us,'" said Nolan.
The most dramatic moment was when the dog went under the 32-degree water -- becoming buried under the ice.
"That kind of just sent a burst of adrenaline into me. I hopped onto the ice and punched a hole where I thought I saw the dog go under," said Ditch.
A first responder was eventually able to coax the dog into a bag, which was then hoisted up to dry land, where the dog was comforted by police on dry land.
If man's best friend is a dog, this pooch must consider these first responders its saviors.
"If that was my dog, I would have jumped off the bridge to get it, you know what I mean?" said Nolan.
It's unclear how the dog ended up in the water, and where the dog's owner was. Both men who took part in the rescue said they'd love an update, and a chance to visit with the dog.