It was an unusual morning for the River Forest Fire Department.
The department was called not once, but twice, to save dogs that had fallen in the Des Plaines River within three hours Tuesday.
“We’ve had two dog rescues this year, both of them were today,” said River Forest Fire Chief Jim Eggert.
The first call came in just before 10 a.m. as a report of a person in the water at Thatcher Avenue and Washington Boulevard.
But the crews quickly learned they were rescuing a dog in the water after they were flagged down by people in the forest preserve, Eggert said.
Firefighters went in with rope and were able to reach the dog, hook its collar and pull it to safety.
“The dog was about 10-12 feet out on the ice, and was hanging onto ice with its body in the water,” Eggert said.
Rescue crews brought the small dog to shore, wrapped him in a blanket, and took him and the owner to the River Forest Animal Hospital.
The responders then packed up their gear and returned to the station.
Around noon, a second call came in for a dog in the river near Chicago Avenue.
A black Labrador was roughly 18 feet out on the ice, clinging to the edge and treading in the water, Eggert said.
The owner told officials the dog was off its leash when it saw a deer and bolted for the water.
“This time it was a little trickier because it was down a very steep embankment,” he said. “We had to cut through some trees and make our way down to the river.”
Once at the river, rescue crews attempted to use pike poles to break the ice, but could not reach the dog.
They then used a roof ladder to continue breaking ice and bring the dog in closer.
Finally, they were able to hook its collar and bring it to shore.
Once out of the water, the dog ran up the steep hill to his owner.
“This has been a very unique day for our forest department,” Eggert said. “I thought everybody did a great job. It was a very good day today, it’s not over yet, but it’s a good day up to this point.”