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The Sun letter to the editor: Thinking of two pets who suffered on the waters of Lake Erie

Two beautiful dogs – one a large golden mixed breed, the other a small Corgi, inseparable pals, always loose and running freely on the Lake Erie shore in the Grandview Bay area – what pals they were.

All summer, they would run and play on the beach. No leashes for them.

All winter, they played on the ice mounds in the lake. I was always relieved when they didn’t happen to fall into one of the ice crevices, and wondered where their owners were. It is very dangerous.

But today, Thursday, April 3rd, was not going to be just another day of playing on the ice, because they didn’t know about the thaw and thin ice; only their owners would know that.

But their owners let them run anyway, unsupervised and unleashed, even though living on the lake area should have made them aware of the dangers of the lake and the spring ice.

My husband saw them playing and running down the beach around 7 a.m. I noticed them about 7:20 a.m., when I sat down with my coffee and suddenly realized they were in trouble. The fun had ended; they had fallen through the ice together and couldn’t get out.

I quickly called the police and then I immediately went down to the lake and was talking to them and trying to keep them calm and let them know someone was there for them.

They seemed relieved to see a person.

The large golden dog was hanging on to the edge of the ice with his front paws and seemed calmer. The little Corgi couldn’t seem to get a hold of the ice, and was paddling, thrashing; trying to hang on to the larger dog. It was heartbreaking.

The dog warden arrived quickly and called Lake Erie Beach Fire Department for a water rescue.

The fire department was on the scene very quickly, but not quick enough for the little Corgi. He fought valiantly to live, but he tired and slipped beneath the water and drowned.

The fire rescue team recovered his body. The dogs were taken to a local vet; they were probably in water 50 minutes.

To the pet owner: I cannot put into words how horrible and senseless this was to watch. I will never forget the beautiful little face with terrified eyes’ begging for someone to help him, and his pitiful cries.

I want to take that memory from my brain and imprint it on yours – the pet owner’s – so you can see what happened in those last 45 minutes in the life of your innocent pet that you were responsible for.

When you decided to be a pet owner, you took on the responsibility of total care, love and protection of them. You failed them, and because of your negligence, this poor little creature died a cruel, terrifying and senseless death.

I will carry that picture in my head to my dying days; I wish you, the pet owner, could also.

A special thank you to the dog warden and the Lake Erie Beach Fire Department for responding so quickly.

Al and Kathie Schallmo

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