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Fire chief: Woman, dogs rescued from icy pond

A professional dog walker and two dogs had to be rescued Friday morning after they fell through thin ice into a tidal pond in Southampton Town, a fire department official said.

The rescued woman was one of three paid dog sitters and walkers who took about 15 canines on their usual route in the hamlet of North Sea.

"These three dog walkers usually bring the dogs down there every day and let them run, but today one of the dogs ran out on the ice because it didn't know the difference" between land and ice, North Sea Fire Chief William Rosko said.

The dog fell through about 50 feet from shore, in an area where the pond is fed by a saltwater inlet from Bullhead Bay, he said.

"One of the women ran out to save him, and she became a victim as well," Rosko said.

"It was so slushy," said the dog walker, who asked not to be named to preserve her privacy. "It was hard to get around there, but what made the big difference was I could stand."

Her own dog, a Labrador retriever, kept jumping in, too. "He wouldn't leave me in the water," she said.

The other dog, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, was too far from shore for her to reach, she said.

An emergency call came in to the fire department about 8:30 a.m., and the North Sea Fire Department responded with two chiefs within eight minutes and a four-person rescue unit by 8:44 a.m., Rosko said.

The rescuers, dressed in survival suits and tethered by rope to the shore, lay flat on the ice to aid the woman and the retriever.

Rosko said rescuers got both out of the water in about five minutes. He estimated survival time in the pond at half an hour.

The woman and the dogs didn't require medical help, but were warmed at the scene, Rosko said.

Rosko said the rescue happened just in time, because the tide was going out into Great Peconic Bay, breaking up the ice. That would have sent pieces of ice toward the middle of the pond, far from shore, complicating the rescue, he said.

"Everybody was wonderful," the dog walker said. "They were very nice and very efficient."

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