Firefighters rescue dog after plunge

Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A man walking across ice on Beluga Lake last Wednesday got lucky, but not so his dog Emma. The 40-pound mixed-breed dog fell through ice near a notorious methane seep on the north shore of the lake just below Mattox Lane. Fortunately, Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters pulled the dog out of cold water.

"We were on shore hooting and hollering and cheering," said Elaine Grabowski, a firefighter-medic who was on the scene.

Emma's owner Jeremy Pawcio was walking Emma when she went through the ice about 200 feet from shore. Last week ice was still about 8-inches thick in places. Some people tried to go out to the dog, but stopped when ice started to crack.

Firefighters were paged about 11:20 a.m. and Homer Police and rescue crews went to the scene. Firefighters Chris Cushman and Tom Appelhanz put on survival suits and crawled out to Emma. Appelhanz crawled around behind the dog while Cushman went in the water and scooped Emma up.

"It was too sweet," Grabowksi said. "As Chris was carrying her back he was holding her like a baby with her feet up in the air. She turned her head and was licking his face. She was saying thank you to her rescuer."

The dog had been in the water about 40 minutes and was mildly hypothermic. Other firefighters wrapped the dog in coats to warm her up. Emma's owners took her to a warm car.

Grabowski said with warming temperatures it's a good idea to stay off the ice.

She said firefighters know that people consider pets part of their families and they were happy to rescue the dog.

"It was a really good, feel good day," Grabowski said. "We were happy, the owners were very happy."

Homer Police Officer Stacy Luck made a video of the rescue. To see the video, visit

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