Volunteer effort helps dog in need

Kimberly, the black Labrador puppy, made national news when she was rescued from Lake Erie on Friday, March 20. Photo courtesy of Detroit Dover Animal Hospital

The power and the passion of the volunteers, our animal loving community and, in my personal opinion, the power of prayer made for a very happy day on the shores of Lake Erie in Bay Village this past Friday.

Volunteers from Friends of the Bay Village Kennel, Love-A-Stray Dog Division out of Avon Lake, the Francati family and Baepler families, along with a few others kept social media whirling about the little black Labrador retriever stuck out on the lake. A Bay Village resident opened her home to media for warmth and food as they too monitored the situation. The Bay police and fire departments logged over 100 calls each just on Friday.

Friends of the Bay Village Kennel started reaching out to animal clinics, police departments, rescues, and animal wardens from Cleveland to Lorain County looking for an owner. Love-A-Stray's facebook posting made a connection about the missing dog from the east end of Lorain off Lake Road which brought the family to the Bay Village Police Department that escorted them to the location of the dog. She was now 880 yards off shore, dragging a rear leg, moving slowly and laying down and curling up a lot.

In unison from the boat dock we yelled her name over and over again with high-powered equipment, hoping to see a response. We waved family clothing and knew that time and options were running out unless Kimberly would gain the strength and courage to come to shore over open waters, and a 5-foot-high bank of ice.

In addition to broken ice and the frigid water, Mother Nature threw in another challenge – large coyotes and their pups. On a few attempts to come in on her own, coyotes chased Kimberly out on the lake further north. Rescuers believe this why she might have curled up in a ball on the ice during the day – to rest so she could be alert and moving at night and far enough from prey. 

On Thursday, the Bay Village Fire Department attempted a rescue, using the opportunity as a training session. The Coast Guard also used this as a training session but would not repeat the exercise on Friday because the conditions had changed overnight with what equipment they had. Avon Lake Fire Department volunteers came before dark, suited up in ice suits as well and each got with in 100 yards with no success as she fled east.

Friday brought hope again as she was spotted very close to the shore of Cashelmara but was spooked again by what was thought to be a coyote and humans. She went back northwest and curled up in a ball, rarely bringing up her head and we all dreaded that the worst had or was about to come.

The Francati family received a call about the air boat dispatched from Sandusky and we made the call to the Bay Village police to open the gate at Bay Boat Club to launch. We could hear the boat and the see the boat and the dog never raised her head.

"Oh, come on, Kimberly," yelled her family. "Come on, baby, it is time to come home."

As the boat approached she rose up and, just like a Disney movie with a happy ending, it all came together – Kimberly jumped in and now rests in the arms of her loving family again.

Family and rescuers fled to the boat club for a woofing reunion and transport to Detroit Dover Animal Hospital. She got a clean bill of health from the veterinarian.

On a concerned and sad note, a family missing a black Labrador was hopeful it was their dog and others insisted it was their dog and prepared to take the dog right then and there. Luckily, Kimberly's family had the new flyer they just made, and APL director Greg Wiley as well as the Lorain County Sheriff were there to verify the dog and her rightful owner. The evening ended in dog kisses, tears a media frenzy for one of the luckiest dogs to ever visit Bay Village.

Please hug your pets each day, support animal rescue and thank our safety forces for doing all they can do.

Friends of the Bay Village Kennel would like to send a big thank you to many of the folks who came to the aid of the sweet black Lab puppy Kimberly missing from the eastern end of Lorain:

  • Bay Village safety forces
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Cleveland
  • Lorain County Sheriff
  • Friendship APL and Cleveland APL
  • Volunteers from the Avon Lake Fire Department
  • The Francati family
  • Elite K-911
  • Connie Fields from Love-A-Stray Dog Division
  • WKYC-TV Channel 3
  • All the people that made phone calls and social media posts and never gave up hope!
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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 5:30 PM, 03.21.2015