EVERGREEN, Colo. --
Kodiak and Mariah, a pair of golden retrievers, were running loose Tuesday afternoon when their adventures took them to the ponds next to the Buchanan Recreation Center.
They were exploring the icy surface when the ice suddenly cracked and both dogs plummeted into the cold water around 1:35 p.m.
They were unable to pull themselves to safety so a passersby called 911 and Evergreen Fire/Rescue responded.
"The passersby did the right thing," said Einar Jensen, a community educator with Evergreen Fire Rescue. "Instead of putting themselves at risk by venturing onto the fragile ice, they called us."
A dozen EFR members responded, including two paramedics, and employed their ice rescue skills, which they had polished at a training three days earlier.
"It was prefect timing," said Evergreen Fire Rescue Capt. Paul Rodgers.
He donned the specially insulated and buoyant ice rescue suit while other firefighters wore personnel flotation devices and held onto the life safety rope attached to their insulated colleague.
Both dogs appeared exhausted as they clung to the side of the ice and slowly paddled toward Rodgers as he inched onto the ice. Once into the water, he pushed both ailing dogs onto the thicker ice and shepherded them to the walkway where firefighters, paramedics and Jefferson County deputies furiously dried the pooches with blankets and towels.
The dogs escaped their adventure relatively unscathed.
Deputies issued their Bergen Park owner, who was contacted with information from the dogs' tags, a citation for having dogs at large.
"As spring nears, the ice on all our lakes, ponds and creeks will weaken," Jensen said. "Instead of guessing whether the ice is strong enough for your weight, stay off to stay safe."
If you fall through the ice, try to stay calm and swim toward the side where you fell. If you can't pull yourself out, extend your arms on the ice all the way to your armpits.
"That way, your arms can freeze to the ice and keep your head above water if you lose consciousness," Jensen said. "If you see someone fall through the ice, call 911. Try to reach them with a ladder or branch, or throw a rope to the person, but stay off the ice."
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