OTTUMWA—What started out as a casual walk for Dave Swedenburg on Thursday, December 22nd ended as a terrifying experience and a heroic rescue. Swedenburg was out for a walk with his six-month-old Labrador Retriever/Rottweiler mix, Moli, in hopes of getting pictures of eagles out on the frozen Des Moines River. He was on the north side of the river, near the walking trail by the Jefferson Street viaduct, when tragedy struck. As Moli played in the grass, she ran too near the edge of the drop off and fell about 30 feet to the frozen water below.
“I didn’t even think of it being unsafe because it was so close to the walking path,” explained Swedenburg. “That could have just as easily been someone’s child that got away from them. I don’t understand why there’s not a guard rail or fence. It’s a very dangerous location.”
As the dog lay on the ice below howling, all Swedenburg could do was attempt to calm her down by talking to her and calling for help. Ottumwa Police Officers and Ottumwa Firefighters were called to the scene around 1PM and immediately began devising a plan to rescue the puppy. A relative newbie to the OFD, Cole Owens, was the man who eventually saved the day. Owens has only been on the job the amount of time that the puppy has been alive, six months, but he was ready to step up to the challenge. As other rescuers remained on the ledge holding a rope attached to Owens, he climbed down a ladder to the frozen river below. The frightened dog came to him quite easily and Owens carried her to safety.
After the rescue Swedenburg thanked the emergency responders and immediately took Moli to Pipestone Veterinary Services of Ottumwa. Dr. Leah Thies began x-rays and blood work on Moli right away and determined that she should undergo surgery due to possible internal bleeding. The surgery went well and after spending the night in an oxygen cylinder in order to stabilize her oxygen level, she was able to return home on Friday afternoon. Dr. Thies determined that the dog had a bruised liver and lungs, and also now a large incision from surgery, but will make a full recovery.
Swedenburg and his girlfriend, Erin Bix, couldn’t be happier about the outcome for their beloved Moli.
“The whole thing has me somewhat sick to my stomach,” Swedenburg admitted. “I thought I lost her I was crying and freaking out and it’s still a very bad deal but I’m just so thankful that she is okay. I want to thank Dr. Thies from Pipestone for doing the surgery. And I just learned that Hogs4Dogs is helping with the vet bill, which is very much appreciated.”
Swedenburg also wants to thank the guys who saved him from having a heartbreaking Christmas without his puppy.
“As for the rescue workers, I would just really like to thank them,” said Swedenburg. “I was frantic and trying to keep Moli calm. The officers on the scene were very understanding. They could tell that I was very upset and they helped to keep me calm.”
Moli will now get to enjoy a Merry Christmas at home with her family while recovering from her scary ordeal.