An exhausted and shivering dog, which was stuck for five hours on an island at Melton Country Park after swimming out across the lake, was reunited with his relieved owners thanks to a heart-warming collaboration between firefighters and a local charity which cares for lost pets.
Artie, an 11-year-old cocker spaniel got into difficulties on Friday morning while out for a walk with a couple who had been visiting friends in the town over the festive period.
He went missing around 9.15am to the distress of his owners who were due to travel back home to Cornwall that day.
They left a message at the park cafe asking for people to look out for their beloved ginger cocker and a post was subsequently put out to people on the Melton Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page.
The local branch of Harvey’s Army, which repatriates hundreds of animals with their owners every year in the area, were alerted and volunteers Wendy Gray and Jake Gray headed down to the park to help look for the missing dog.
Wendy told the Melton Times: “Apparently, Artie likes water and as his owners went to get him he had just shot out across the big lake.
“As we split up to search for him we could hear this faint barking and then we spotted him on an island about 30 metres from the bank.
“We tried to coax him back into the water to come back to us but he was clearly exhausted and he didn’t want to go back in.”
After considering going into the lake herself, Mrs Gray said they then sent out an online appeal for anyone with a kayak or canoe who could come out to the park to bring Artie back.
When there was no response, they then called the emergency 101 line to ask for advice but they said they would send a team of firefighters to help.
A crew from the Melton station arrived within 15 minutes and they were joined by technical rescue colleagues from the city’s Southern station shortly afterwards.
They used an inflatable dinghy. known as a sled, to paddle out and pick up the stranded and frightened Artie and transport him back to be with his overjoyed owners.
Wendy said: “We didn’t want to use the resources of the emergency services, who were amazing, but they advise people not to go into the water because it is too dangerous.
“Artie was shivering when he came back because he had been out there five hours and it was very cold.
“I’ve since heard from his owners and they say he is none the worse for wear for the experience.
“They said he was subdued at first but he’s been up on Bodmin Moor and is back to his usual self.”
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service said it was alerted to the incident at about 1.14pm.
A spokesperson said: “We received a call reporting a dog stuck on an island within a lake, approximately 30 metres from the bank.
“The owner was in attendance and stated that the dog, a brown cocker spaniel, had been stuck for several hours.
“Two members of the technical rescue team entered the water and rescued the dog using a sled and the spaniel was reunited with its owner.”
Search for ‘Harvey’s Army South Facebook page’ to find out more about the work the charity does to help repatriate animals with their owners.