“I had to get her.”: Woman rescues dog that broke through ice on Sheyenne River

The spot where Gracie broke through the ice
The spot where Gracie broke through the ice(KVLY)
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - It was a calm pre-work ritual as Jeanne Woolwine took her dog, Gracie, out for a walk, until, the leash was pulled from her grasp.

“She ran off with the leash on down that way, chasing turkeys, having the time of her life,” said Woolwine.

And then, Gracie took off towards the Sheyenne river.

“I heard a bark and then I started going through the woods and then the bark became a whine.”

There, she found Gracie had broken through the ice, clinging to the surface, submerged in the frigid water.

“She was just looking at me. I couldn’t let her just stay there. I had to get her.”

Causing Woolwine to spring into action.

“I just started stepping out onto the ice. I bent down, grabbed her leash and her collar, and yanked her out. I was rushing back through the brush, and the leash would keep getting stuck on trees. I kept falling down.”

While Gracie’s rescue was a success, Woolwine does not condone how she went about it.

“I made the completely irrational decision to step out on to the ice,” said Woolwine.

“If your pet drops into the ice, into the water, we don’t recommend that you go out and get it yourself,” said Joey Porter, battalion chief with the West Fargo Fire Department. “Call 911, get help on the way. If your dog fell through, there’s a good chance you’re going to fall through the ice also.”

Woolwine says she wasn’t thinking. and officials say the safe decision is to dial 911 for help, but when you’re in the moment with your pet trapped in freezing water, what would you do?

“I would do anything I could to save her and it’s a really, really hard call when you want to save your dog and she’s in a bad position,” said Donna Bernhardt, a fellow dog owner.

“I couldn’t lose my dog,” said Woolwine. “I mean, she’s not just a pet, she’s family.”