GREAT FALLS — On Tuesday, December 27, at about 12:30 p.m., Great Falls firefighters were called after a witness reported two dogs fighting for their lives in the frigid Missouri River - and what seemed like what many would expect to end in tragedy ended up being a miracle.
A witness who reported the incident said they saw two dogs chasing after geese at Broadwater Bay and then fall into the water as the ice collapsed.
Great Falls Fire Rescue said in a Facebook post: "A-Shift E-2 & E-1 rescued two pups that got themselves into serious trouble in the river just below Broadwater Bay."
Great Falls Emergency Services field paramedic Erik Nelson described one of the dogs' state of shock: "When she was in the water, I can see her starting to shut down... and I thought, I hope she doesn't go under."
Fortunately, the dogs did not sustain any injuries, despite troubles moving their legs after getting out of the water.
Great Falls Fire Rescue battalion chief Bjay Perry explained, "They were pretty exhausted, and when they got out, they were cold enough, and their muscles were stoved up enough they can barely walk, so they definitely were in trouble."
Great Falls Emergency Services EMT Emily Boor discussed the moments when the dogs were rescued from the water.
She said, "The dogs just came right to us. It was really cold out, so the water is just dripping off of them, turning into icicles. We asked the Animal Control gal if her kennels were heated, and she said they're not, and we said, we have a heated ambulance and blankets, so we put them right up."
As for the dogs, all seems well. They are being held at the City of Great Falls Animal Shelter where they are being taken care of. At this point, there is no word on whether they are owned by anyone, nor whether they may be adoptable.
The Great Falls Police Department said at the time of the incident: "The 'feels like' temperature was about -24 degrees (if you were dry) so a team from Great Falls Emergency Services transported them in a warm ambulance, and Animal Control Officer Ethridge checked them in to the City of Great Falls Animal Shelter."