Dog Saved in Harbour

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 4:34 p.m. February 24, 2016
Updated: 11:35 a.m. February 25, 2016

Pelli is the happiest dog in the city, according to owner Neil Carlson who almost lost the 4-year-old Cocker Spaniel on Wednesday morning when the dog slipped into the water at York Quay.

A wide shot of the lake with a police boat in close to the shore and a man in a dry suit jumping in
Constable Dan Macnab jumping into the water from a Marine Unit boat to rescue Pelli the dog.

“I like to take him out to different parts of the city and we were both enjoying the morning when he just slipped,” said Carlson, who had Pelli off his leash as they walked along the waterfront board walk.

At first Carlson thought Pelli had jumped onto a platform below but when he approached the edge of the boardwalk he saw that his dog was in the frigid water ten feet below the harbour wall.

Carlson, who was in a cast from a fracture in his foot,  immediately called 9-1-1, hoping to save Pelli who was treading the water but had no way to lift himself to shore.

Marine Constables Russell Hardy, Daniel Macnab and Stacey Kellough responded to the call on boat. Macnab immediately dressed in a dry suit in case he had to jump in after the dog.

“A lot of times with dogs, the owners end up going into the water too and get into more trouble than the dogs,” said Macnab, who has had to rescue people before who have jumped into the water in an attempt to save their their dogs. 

When they got to the scene, officers noticed the commotion on shore and that the dog was also swimming between two docked boats.

“We saw the owners and some people trying to keep the dog above the water with the life guard hooks along the walls,” said Macnab. 

Hardey faced the nose of the boat between the two boats and Macnab jumped into the water as Kellough shouted directions to Hardy and Macnab. 

“As soon as I swam towards the dog he knew I was there and he swam right towards me, sometimes dogs are not keen on new people, but he swam right to me and he got right up on my shoulder. Soon as he got on my shoulder it was done, he didn’t even pretend to swim,” said Macnab, with a laugh. 


Dog rescue at work.

Note: (Cellphone video shot by citizen, background comments also by citizens)

He swam over to a rescue ladder on the retaining wall and Macnab carried Pelli up where his owner was able to pull him up by the collar. They dried the dog off with an emergency towel and in a few minutes Pelli was back to being his happy self.

While this was a quick and safe rescue, Macnab says that in the winter time such situations can be dangerous, especially if the water has frozen over.

“In the wintertime dogs will fall onto ice or through cracks in the ice and the owner will start to panic and go on the ice to rescue them and fall through.”

He says that dogs are much hardier in these situations and warned dog owners to call an emergency service and not attempt the rescue themselves. In Toronto, you can call the non-emergency line416-808-2222 and ask for the Marine Unit.

Macnab estimates that they get at least a dozen calls each winter for dogs and owners in the water. 

As for Carlson he is just grateful to have Pelli home safe and dry.

“I owe everything to the Marine Unit, this dog means so much me,” said Carlson, who has had Pelli since he was 10-weeks-old. 

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