EDMONTON -- A fire official admits crews are "frustrated" after receiving calls to rescue four dogs that wandered out onto North Saskatchewan River ice on Wednesday.

The emergency calls all came from the same area where a man was swept away last week trying to rescue a stranger's pet.

On Wednesday, a bernadoodle puppy died, two other dogs had to be rescued by firefighters in a boat and a black lab was able to make it to shore on its own.

The first call came in at 1:30 p.m., a second came in at 1:39 p.m. and a third was received at 4:30, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said.

The calls originated from the Buena Vista Off-Leash Park just north of the Edmonton Valley Zoo, and Hawrelak Park on the other side of the water.

"Dogs like water and if they're gone, the odds are you may try to go out after them. And if you go under that ice, it’s not going to be good for you. Chances are you aren't coming back," Captain Lou Rimstad said at the scene.

Rimstad said while firefighters have the gear needed to make rescues, going out into the ice is also "risky" for them.

"People just have to use a little bit more common sense. I understand with the beautiful weather and the trails open, I totally understand that. But when it comes to the river and the ice, it’s a very very dangerous thing," he added.

EFRS said they've been dispatched to 48 ice rescue calls from Jan. 1 to Apr. 7, 2021, more than double the 18 they received in 2020.

"The biggest concern is the number of units that are being taken out of service for heart attacks, strokes or other medical emergencies," Rimstad said.


The owner of the dog that was able to make it out of the water on its own spoke to CTV News Edmonton at the scene, but requested her name not be used.

She said her black lab was on a leash while they passed the river, but ran back to the water as soon as she took it off.

"He's been pretty good so far this season. But he ran back and went straight into the water. My heart dropped a little bit...obviously there’s been a lot of stories about dogs and humans going into the river," she said.

"It's a good idea to keep your dog on a leash. I know it’s an off-leash dog park, but definitely close to the river and with the ice and current so strong, keep them on a leash."

EFRS said to call 911 immediately if any dogs or people are seen in distress and warned people to never go out onto river ice to rescue a pet.