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PETA cites firefighters, teachers for dog's rescue

The animal-welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is giving an award to the Washington Township Fire Department and three Toledo teachers for their efforts in the rescue of a stray dog from the frozen Maumee River last week.

PETA, which has 2 million members around the world, will send the fire department and teachers a framed copy of its Compassionate Action Award.

The dog, a black female chow mix, is with the Lucas County Dog Warden, which is keeping it for three business days to give the owner a chance to claim it. That period expires at the end of business Tuesday. If the dog remains unclaimed, it will be evaluated for adoption Wednesday.

The rescue took place last Tuesday when township firefighters responded to a call about a dog on the ice about a quarter-mile upriver from the Veterans' Glass City Skyway Bridge. Two of the teachers, who are on the staff of Walbridge Elementary School, saw the dog while driving across the bridge and notified authorities. They also called a third Walbridge teacher who is active in a local animal welfare group, Planned Pethood Inc.

"The compassion and determination shown by the teachers and the fire department should inspire others throughout the community and beyond," Tracy Reiman, PETA's executive vice president, said in a news release. "This story is a reminder to everyone about how important it is to come to the aid of animals in need."

The dog was rescued from the ice about 5:45 p.m., a little more than two hours after it had been seen.

Toledo police and firefighters initially responded to the scene on Water Street, where the dog could be seen on the ice about 100 yards from shore. They requested assistance from Washington Township, which brought its fire department hovercraft, a vehicle that travels on a cushion of air generated by a powerful fan.

Firefighter Mel Russell piloted the craft across the ice to the frightened dog, which tried to run away. After a few passes, he reached over the side and pulled it into the hovercraft.

Ashore, the dog was rushed into a rescue squad vehicle and examined by firefighters and John Dinon, the executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society. He found it in good condition, with no signs of hypothermia or behavior issues. A deputy dog warden took the canine to a veterinarian for examination.

Ron Kay, an assistant township fire chief, said PETA's recognition was appreciated. "We're very happy. Any time we can help in a situation like this, we will, as long as we don't put our people at risk. We felt comfortable using our hovercraft, and everything worked out well. The guys felt good about helping out," he said.

One of the teachers, Lynn Henderman, said she and her colleagues Shelli Smith and Christy Lawrence,also were gratified.

"We're very honored to be recognized, that someone would take the time to say 'Thank you,'" she said, adding that her group, Planned Pethood, would be willing to take the rescued pooch from the warden.

Mr. Dinon said the Humane Society would be willing to do the same. "If she's an adoptable dog and they don't want to adopt her out, we'll take her. But I have to believe she'll be adopted out," he said.

PETA spokesman Shakira Croce had high praise for the way officials and citizens sprang to action to help the stray.

"It's so nice to see people trying to make a difference in the lives of animals. They certainly made a difference in the life of this one dog," she said.