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First responders thanked for rescuing dog from icy water

Photos by Tom Rivers: Firefighters break through ice to cross a quarry in Murray to get to a dog stranded in icy water. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at about 4 p.m. and were able to bring the dog to dry land at about 4:40.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 January 2020 at 1:37 pm

Jules Hoepting’s cries for help were answered

MURRAY – Jules Hoepting likes to take her dog Lily for walks along the canal. Jules, 19, and her Doberman Pinscher typically get on the towpath near the Brown Street bridge in Albion.

Jules is home on college break from Fredonia State College. On Saturday she wanted to take Lily on a different part of the towpath just for a change of pace. She likes the spot near Fancher Road where there are old quarries filled with water. She drove Lily to Densmore Road and then they headed for a long walk east.

“I thought we’d try a different spot to explore,” Jules said this morning.

Three firefighters get close to where a dog was stranded in cold water. Jules Hoepting, top left, stayed close on the embankment to try to comfort her dog.

Lily after about 2 miles of walking got thirsty and wanted a drink. She normally gets a drink from the canal but the water is drained during the winter.

The dog instead wandered down a steep embankment to get a drink. It was very steep and she fell into the icy water.

Jules followed after Lily. There wasn’t any dry shore. Jules also got wet and realized just how cold the water was. She didn’t have a phone on her.

She could get herself up the steep embankment, but not with an 80-pound dog. She didn’t want to leave Lily alone and screamed for help for several minutes.

A man happened to be riding by on a bike. Chad Beach heard Jules and called 911.

Firefighters arrived and put a ropes ladder down the steep embankment for Jules, but she wouldn’t leave until her dog was rescued. Jules climbed partway up the embankment and hung on to a tree and kept talking to Lily.

“I just wanted to be near her because I thought she would die,” Jules said. “I was so worried for her. There was no way I could have gotten her out.”

A group of firefighters arrived on the towpath, and then put the ladder in place for Jules. Across from the quarry on Canal Road, firefighters from Carlton and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray set off in a rescue boat.

Jules stayed near her dog while three firefighters crossed the quarry in the boat. They needed to smash ice with paddles to get across.

The firefighters in the boat include Joe Morlino of FHM, and brothers Andrew and Justin Niederhofer of Carlton. There was a rope attached to the boat so it could be pulled back by firefighters on shore.

When the boat nearly crossed the old quarry, Justin Niederhofer went into the water to get Lily, who was standing in water on a ledge. Niederhofer held the dog as they boat was pulled back to shore.

Firefighters greet Lily after she was held by a firefighter and pulled across the water .

Lily was then carried to a rescue vehicle and covered in blankets to get warm. The dog suffered no ill effects. On the car ride home, she shook off the blankets. When she made it home, she ate a bowl of food and then took a long nap.

Jules thanked the firefighters for mobilizing such a big response.

Her mother, Christy Hoepting, is thankful so many people helped her daughter and their beloved dog.

She knows the outcome could have been different if the weather had been colder, if Chad Beach didn’t happen to go by and make a 911 call, if firefighters didn’t show up so fast after the call, and if the dog wasn’t so tough.

“We know we got lucky today,” Christy Hoepting posted on the Orleans Hub Facebook page. “Thank you to the entire rescue team and to Chad Beach for responding to Jules’s cries for help. We are blessed!”

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