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Letter: South River firemen stood by as pet dog drowned says owner

'Our Brody had been swimming for around 30 minutes trying to break the ice and crying. all the time. We didn’t know how long he would last'
Brody, the Weaver's pet dog, died in a tragic drowning on the South River.

To the editor:

On January 2 2024 around 2:00 pm our dog Brody was chasing a bird and ran out on the ice on the river and fell through.

My husband tried to get to him but the ice started to break.

I called 911 for the fire department and told them what had happened and they would need to bring a canoe or dinghy.

The fire chief showed up in a pair of blue jeans and his fire hat. I told him he could drive right down to the beach. He said he doesn’t have to as he is not doing anything.

My husband asked WHY, and the fire chief informed us that the South River Fire Department does not make water or ice rescues whether it is an animal or person. My husband asked what do you do? The fire chief answered WE WATCH THEM DIE AND THEN GO HOME.

Another fireman appeared but did not say anything. At this point, I will tell you my husband and I are 71 yrs. old, I had a heart attack and my husband Dennis had a double bypass 2 years ago. Eighteen months ago we lost our daughter Kim to a heart attack. We live out in the country on the South River.

Dennis then asked them to help him turn over our boat and push it to the ice. They said no they couldn’t do that.

Dennis said I am not asking you to go in the boat, I am doing that, I just need a way to get out and get him.

The fire chief said if you fall in the water we can’t save you, Dennis said, "Fine just help me with the boat."

By this time our Brody had been swimming for around 30 minutes trying to break the ice and crying. all the time. We didn’t know how long he would last.

My husband and I were crying and pleading with them to help us with the boat, you do not need to be a fireman to move a boat, anyone with muscles can do it. Dennis asked them to help throw rocks on the ice to try and break the ice to give him a way out, they threw a couple of rocks in the wrong direction.

All this time my husband and I we screaming and crying for Brody to keep swimming and break the ice, but OUR FIRE CHIEF AND VOLUNTEER from the SOUTH RIVER FIRE DEPARTMENT were standing in the same place and not saying a word.

Dennis told them that we had lost our daughter 18 months ago and he also had a double bypass and his heart was beating like crazy and we can’t take any more losses.

They didn’t say anything.

I was surprised when Dennis complained about his heart beating so fast, that they didn’t try to check him out or call the EMS. Dennis asked them what do they do, just watch him die? And the fire chief said yes, we wait until he goes under the ice and does not come back up and then we leave.

The chief asked how old Brody was and Dennis said 10 yrs and the chief said oh well he is ready to go anyway, Dennis said Brody was just at the vet for his checkup and the vet said he was in great shape for his age about the age of a 7 yr. old.  

I called a neighbour to see if he had a canoe and Charlie said he would see what he could do.

Just as Brody went under the ice for the last time Charlie and Bill pulled into our driveway grabbing their canoe, I told them Brody was gone,

Charlie and Bill went running past the FIRE DEPARTMENT and put their canoe on the ice to get to the water. In five minutes they found Brody and they tried to revive him but it was too late.

What I do not understand is whenever Dennis tried getting on the ice they told him he couldn’t go out on the ice and every time Dennis tried to get them to help with the boat they said he could not take a boat out but when Charlie and Bill came and ran on the ice nothing was said to Charlie and Bill by the fire department.

The fire department came over to me and said WE ARE SORRY ABOUT YOUR LOSS COULD WE PHONE VICTIMS SERVICES FOR YOU, I said no. I just turned around and went into my house.

Altogether, our baby Brody fought frantically for his life for about 60 minutes. If that isn’t animal cruelty I don’t know what is. What do we call it if it is a person, human cruelty? I have always been taught to respect the people who protect us, we have very good friends who are firemen.

What we want is for everyone who would use the South River Fire Department to be careful what you are calling them for. On their cover sheet, they say they only do water rescue in STATIC water. In researching static it is non-moving water, I am not sure I know of any water that is not moving except a puddle. 

Dennis and Linda Weaver
South River, Ontario