During the coldest times of the year, it’s unthinkable to leave an animal outside. It’s even worse that someone would abandon an animal in a freezing lake.
Bryant Fritz was heading out to do some ice fishing at a lake in Illinois.
Then he saw something that stopped him in his tracks. It was a small black and white puppy floating helplessly in a crate.
Fritz, a middle school science teacher, knew he had to act fast. He had no idea how long the pup had been in the water.
“It was about 3 p.m. when I saw the dog in the lake,” he said.
“Part of the crate was sticking out of the water. The puppy’s head was still above water but the rest of her body was submerged.”
The bitterly cold temperatures meant the puppy was in danger of freezing to death. For a moment, Fritz wondered if he should call the police or animal rescue.
“I thought about calling someone but I didn’t think she had an extra five or 10 minutes,” he said. “I just didn’t know.”
With only minutes to spare, he made a gutsy decision.
He jumped into the icy water himself and swam out to pull her in.
When he reached her, she was already in grave danger. Fritz quickly loaded her into his car. He sped for the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. He only stopped once along the way — at his own home to grab her a blanket.
At the hospital, staff members warmed her up for two to three hours before her body returned to a normal temperature.
They diagnosed her with hypothermia and other injuries. However, the injuries she sustained didn’t seem to be related to her time in the water.
Fortunately, the pup’s story took a happy turn. She’s completely healthy again and ready to be released to Champaign County Animal Control.
“She’s excited, she’s happy, she’s eating, she wags her tail, licks faces, takes treats,” said hospital employee Dr. Meghan Fick.
“Puppies are so resilient that she doesn’t know that people did this to her, and she just wants to be around people. She wants to sit on your lap, lick your hands and take treats. She’s ready to move on and doesn’t harbor any bad feelings.”
The puppy was also been given a name — Dory.
And there’s an even happier part to the story: Fritz wants to adopt her.
He recently lost his own beloved Pitbull mix.
“As I filled out the paperwork when I brought her to the hospital, I realized I wanted this dog to be a part of my life,” he said. “We are the first ones on the list.”
It seems like the two of them were in the right place at the right time. With any luck, Dory will soon be in her new home with a new and loving family. At Fritz’s side, she’s sure to always be safe and warm.
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