As river freezes, Edmonton reminds dog owners to take caution around water and ice

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With ice beginning to accumulate on the North Saskatchewan River, the City of Edmonton is reminding dog owners to take extra precautions when allowing their dogs off leash.

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On Saturday, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to an area near the Wolf Willow footbridge after a dog made its way into the river. City spokesman Rowan Anderson said the pup eventually made it to shore but was lucky to avoid being swept away.

Spring and late fall are particularly treacherous times for dog owners who frequent the river valley, as freezing or thawing river ice increases access to swift water.

The danger was driven home in April when Rob White , a 55-year-old artist and entrepreneur, went through the ice trying to rescue a stranger’s dog in Sir Wilfred Laurier Park.

The dog was saved, but White was swept away. His body was located more than a week later near Government House Park and Groat Road.

Anderson said the city recommends keeping dogs on-leash even in off-leash dog parks. He also stressed the importance of knowing where you are.

“Saying you’re in Terwillegar dog park doesn’t do much good,” he said in an email. “Some of the parks are very large, with difficult access to the river. Specifics are critical, especially in an emergency.”

If park users find themselves in trouble, they should immediately call 911 instead of attempting to rescue a pet or human heading down river.

If someone ends up in the water, Anderson urged those on scene to keep them in sight for as long as possible.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

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