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Animal subsequently named Holly is recovering, warming in the care of animal control.
"He was on an ice float. And at one point he decided to try to swim, and he got in the water for about 10 minutes and decided that it was a little too cold, so he climbed back onto the ice float, and it looked like he kind of waited for the boat to get there and get him," said Mike Fox, a chief of special operations with the Chicago Fire Department.
The call, initially about a dog on the ice off of Fullerton Avenue, came in to city officials at about 9:40 a.m., said Fire Media Affairs Chief Kevin MacGregor.
First responders soon realized the animal wasn't someone's pet, but rather a small coyote. She was shivering on an ice float with icicles dangling from her fur.
"It was immobile. Totally immobile. It wasn't reacting at all," said Animal Control Officer Miguel Hernandez. "Your first instinct is to get that animal out of that situation because it wasn't going to last much longer out on that freezing water."
A fire boat, which is actually a tug boat capable of breaking through the ice, was used to get to the animal, and officials from Chicago Animal Care and Control snared her with a long rod with a loop on the end of it.
"Once they got him out, it was like the coyote was kind of happy to be out of the water. It was pretty calm. And they put a blanket on him. Once he got to shore he was getting a little more active," said Fox.
Fox later said that firefighters determined the coyote to be a female; they named her Holly.
"It was cool. This was the first time I've ever rescued a coyote on this job, so that's a story we can tell, I guess," said firefighter Jeff Weber.
Holly was transferred Friday afternoon to Flint Creek Wildlife, in Itasca, which specializes in rehabilitating and releasing wild animals. Animal care officials said she'll be checked out by another vet and set free, though there's no word on where or when the release is going to happen.