A dog in Chicago owes his life to a winter kayaker who ventured out into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan to rescue to the stranded dog.
Pifas, a three-year-old Duck Tolling Retreiver, had been missing since February 13th after getting out of his home while the landlord was doing some maintenance work. On Friday, he found himself stuck on the ice near Lake Michigan's Touhy Beach on the Far North Side part of Chicago.
When the dog was seen jumping from one piece of ice to another for nearly an hour, emergency officials were notified. After receiving the call at around 3:30 p.m., officials with the fire department responded to the scene. With the help of a helicopter and a Chicago Fire Department boat, officials attempted to nudge the dog back towards the shore so land rescuers could reach him.
Dave Kehnast, a 37-year-old winter surfer and avid kayaker, could see the dog from his Rogers Park apartment and decided to help. Wanting to help the dog to safety, Kehnast put on his wetsuit, grabbed his kayak and headed out to the lake. He told ABC7:
"I saw him way out there and so I grabbed the kayak over here, and I know that the lake is only a couple of feet deep all the way out to where the ice shelf ends. So I knew I'd be fine."
He paddled close to the dog and upon reaching him, got out of his kayak and tried to grab the dog. The frightened dog tried to bite Kehnast, but Kehnast was determined to helped the animal, telling CBS Chicago:
“I got really close to him but he wanted bite me. I stayed on him … and I just sort of hustled him along. I don’t know if he realized the exact amount of danger he was in.”
With Kehnast's help, the dog made it to shore and took off running. Officials with Animal Control finally caught up to Pifas in an alleyway and were able to capture him. The dog was taken to Animal Control were he was held overnight.
The dog's owner, Nerijius Steponavicius, said he had placed flyers around the city in an effort to find his missing dog. Those flyer paid off when the rescue was aired on live television around Chicago. According to WGNTV people began calling Steponavicius when they recognized the dog on television as the same dog on the flyers.
Steponavicius attempted to pick up Pifas Friday evening, but was told he would have to come back on Saturday during normal business hours.
Thankful for Kehnast's willingness to help save Pifas, Steponavicius said:
“I need to see him and probably buy him a dinner.”