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Township dog rescued from lake more than just family pet

March 27, 2013 - Atlas Twp.- A canine trained to provide comfort to others recently needed just a little assistance himself.

A local family is thankful today after a neighbor, along with the township fire department, saved their dog Riley from the icy waters of Lake Shinanguag.

Mark Trowbridge, owner of Riley, a 12-year-old Brittany spaniel, explained the dog wandered away out on the partially frozen lake.

"We are not sure why he was out on the lake, maybe chasing geese or just confused, we did not see Riley out on the ice," he said. "The Fullers, neighbors who also live on the lake, noticed an animal struggling in the water."

Township Fire Chief Fred Forys said they received the call on Sunday afternoon. Two firefighters arrived at the lake with ice rescue suits and saw the dog splashing around about 75 feet off shore. The team crawled out on the ice and were able to pull the dog onto firm ice.

"There was open water on Lake Shinanguag—we are not sure why he went out there," said Forys. "He (Riley) was just hanging on the edge of the ice at the open water edge. Due to the spring weather right now there is no safe ice for anyone, dogs or people. Just stay off it."

Riley was pulled from the water and wrapped in a blanket. The owners were notified from dog tag information.

"Riley is much more than a loved family pet," said Trowbridge. "He is a contributing member of our community. As a therapy dog he has spent years visiting the local hospice and Genesys Hospital providing patients, family members and nurses with unconditional compassion. He's much more than just a dog."

According to Therapy Dogs International, dogs like Riley are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas.

"The Fullers called 9-1-1 and kept Riley's hopes for help alive. The fire department's response under the direction of Chief Fred Forys was very quick, effective and professional. Thank you for saving the life of our family member, Riley. I can't imagine he would have lasted much longer in that water."

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