Four legs or two legs, it doesn’t matter to Tom Ceres. The Wilmington Fire Department Lieutenant is making the rescue either way. For proof, look no further than Friday morning.
Ceres and his fellow firefighters were called to Wild Ave. and Phillips Ave. near Silver Lake where a German Shepard had fallen through thin ice and was unable to pull himself onto solid ground.
“He had his front half on the ice, but when he moved the ice would break,” said Ceres. “He knew he was in trouble.”
So Ceres loaded an ice rescue sled into his pick up truck and was joined by two firefighters in wetsuits at the scene in addition to several other responding trucks.
But the rescue workers didn’t need to enter the frigid water. Ceres tossed a grappling hook and was able to hook it onto Bruno’s collar and pull him to safety.
Bruno, who belongs to a Tewksbury family, had escaped from his groomer’s in his hometown and traveled into Wilmington. Ceres guessed Bruno was traveling through the woods when he walked across the ice, which was not Silver Lake, but a swampy area nearby.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and this is the first time I’ve had to make an ice rescue,” said Ceres. “We just did ice training recently and my intentions were to go out today or Monday to practice for real. I’ll think we’re good now for a little bit. It’s one of those scenarios where you have to be ready at any time.”
After Bruno was pulled from the ice, Animal Control Officer Ellen Sawyer and the Wilmington Police Department worked together to reunite the canine with his family.
“They were very grateful to have their dog back home,” said Sawyer. "He was definitely cold."
Ceres said that regardless of what kind of creature may be in distress on the ice, his department will attempt to make a rescue.
The main reason is the desire to save the animal, but another important factor is preventing danger of citizens who may try to take matters into their own hands.
“It makes no difference if it’s an animal or a human. If it’s an animal, it’s someone’s pet, someone’s loved one,” said Ceres. “Also, humans have a way of wanting to help animals. Unfortunately people who want to help may go out on the ice and end up trapped themselves. Then you have a real life rescue operation.”
An incident like that developed today in Windham, New Hampshire, as local firefighters rescued a man on Canobie Lake.
“That’s another reason we do it,” said Ceres. “So that someone with good intentions doesn’t get themselves in trouble.”