An effort to rescue a dog on an island in the Mohawk River this afternoon ended with the dog fleeing safely to shore and firefighters with some training.
Officials from both sides of the river launched the effort shortly before noon after a passer-by reported a long-haired black dog, on the island just below Lock 7.
The concern was that the dog was trapped on the island, there appeared to be open water around it, officials said.
As it turned out, the dog could get off the island on his own. He just needed the encouragement of an approaching rescuer.
The obviously scared canine fled the approaching firefighters before arriving on the Niskayuna side of the river apparently unharmed.
Niskayuna District 2 and the Aplaus Fire Department deployed their airboats. A couple firefighters and an animal control officer from Saratoga County landed on the island in an attempt to get the dog to safety.
The two boats checked opposite sides of the island. Alplaus Fire Chief Andy Coppola then spotted it, but it ran.
“I approached the dog, but the dog got scared and jumped in the water and swam to the next island,” Coppola said.
From there, it got in the water again and made it to shore.
“I was very surprised, you could tell by the tracks on the island that he’d been there for quite some time,” Coppola said.
Coppola said he did not see tags on the dog. Coppola could only describe the dog as big and black with long hair. Officials had no reports of missing dogs in the area.
Firefighters searched the Niskayuna shore, but were ultimately unable to locate the dog, said Chris Nobes, second assistant chief for Niskayuna Fire District 2. The effort concluded shortly after 2 p.m.
The Vischer Ferry Fire Department also assisted.
As for the effort to get the dog to shore, Nobes said they wanted to do what they can, within reason, to help the dog. Such efforts, though, serve a larger purpose.
“It certainly serves as some training for us,” Nobes said. “Thankfully, it wasn’t a person. It could easily have been a person and a dog.”
Coppola said the effort reinforces important lessons for firefighters this time of year as ice on the river turns to open water.
Alplaus already had a similar training exercise scheduled for Sunday, Coppola said. Now they just got some ahead of that.
“Anytime we can get out on the water, whether it be during a call or during training, is good experience for when something else needs to be done,” Coppola said.