Lifestyle & Human Interest

Jogger Breaks Through Ice, Jumps in Freezing Water to Save Drowning Dog


Dogs. Frozen lakes. Accidents.

The combination is bound to come up in places with frigid winters, and every year we hear about rescues of hapless pups from frozen ponds or lakes and their human heroes.

Darcy Pell of Yorkshire, England, can join that rank of hero after his actions on Jan. 9. He was going for a run at a local park, Pontefract Park, around noon when he spotted an accident about to happen.

“I saw the dog running around the ice and I thought that dog’s going to fall in eventually — then it did!” Darcy told People. “I carried on my run for a couple of minutes but kept watching the dog, then just sort of decided that it wasn’t going to get out, so I ran back toward the lake.”

Pell is no ordinary jogger, and few people could have been more prepared than him to plunge into the freezing water.

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“I don’t generally jump into ice water for fun, but I do triathlons and live in Yorkshire, so it’s never really very warm,” he joked. “I’m a strong swimmer, so it didn’t really phase me. I just got in and used my body to break the ice because it was quite thick that day.

“I also know how my body is going to react to cold water and I know what your body is going through. I was out running too, so my outside was already cold. It probably wasn’t as much of a shock to me as it would have been to somebody on the side in their normal clothes.”

Pell seemed completely unfazed by the incident: He handed off the pup, exited the lake, changed his shirt and continued his run, almost as if the dip in the lake had been part of his training for the day.

“I didn’t want any fuss,” he explained, “so I just sort of got out and the dog ran off and then came back and shook its water on me. The owners thanked me, put a collar on the dog, then just carried on with their walk.”

Bystanders were a bit more impressed than Pell was, and one, in particular, caught the rescue on video and shared it online.

“What a hero, this complete stranger rescued this [family’s] dog when it got into trouble in Pontefract Park,” Paula Town posted on Jan. 9.

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The video has since been shared over 6,000 times and been picked up by many news outlets.

Kara Haigh, who claims to be Pell’s sister-in-law, has set up a GoFundMe to recognize Pell. At Pell’s request, any money raised will go to the local dog rescue and “life buoys for around the lake as there wasn’t any around when the incident took place.”

While many people have had biting comments about the owners’ perceived carelessness, Pell urges viewers to calm down.

“A lot of people have made a fuss since the video went onto the Internet and said their dog should be on a lead,” he said. “Or that they’re stupid. They’re idiots … But they’re not. He just slipped his lead and ran off. It was as simple as that. It was not their fault.”

“His owners really aren’t to blame. Sometimes, dogs are just dogs!”

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