Firefighters rescue golden retriever trapped in frozen NJ lake

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HOWELL, N.J. — A golden retriever is safe and sound after officials rescued him when he fell through thin ice while chasing geese onto a pond in Howell Thursday.

The pup fell into the freezing waters around 1:30 p.m. But Adelphia Firefighters and Howell Township Police Officer Stephanie Regina sprang into action.

Duke, 10, is an old dog but he has plenty of energy. Firefighters tried to lure Duke into a rescue basket. They hoped he would jump in.

“He wasn’t able to. I don’t know if he was crampy or he was just too weak to do it,” said Officer Regina. "He had been in the water for about a half-hour."

Rescuers say the ice began to re-freeze around Duke's body.

"Thank god he was strong enough to live that long in that cold water,” said Ray Ryan. The Ryan family owns Duke. The pond sits behind the family’s home in a private Howell community called The Villages off of Wyckoff Mills Road. "I don’t think a human could live that long in that kind of water."

The Ryan family watched nervously as Firefighter William Cruse crawled out onto the ice on his belly in an effort to rescue Duke. But Cruse also crashed through.

“Before I was about to grab him, I went through,” said Cruse, who was able to stand up in the ice cold water. "I grabbed him and they pulled me back in.”

He said the ice cold water felt like a ton of bricks crashing into his body. But Cruse refused treatment at the scene and he is doing fine today. Duke was too weak to walk when they pulled him out of the water.

"He was limp,” said Cruse. "Not really any life left in him."

Officer Regina said they acted fast to get Duke warm as soon as possible.

"We scooped him up right away with the blankets and everything,” she said. “We brought him right inside.”

Duke has since been to the vet and he seems to be doing just fine.

“I think he’s doing great,” said Ryan. “Thanks to these great men that saved him.”