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Dog participates in a polar plunge – Is this animal abuse?

I found this story interesting.

Apparently a yellow Labrador participated in a community “polar plunge” fundraising event in Massachusetts, and of course people were freaking out and accusing the dog’s owner of animal abuse.

A Labrador.

While I think it’s good to be concerned for a dog’s safety, this is a classic example of people freaking out over nothing.

The dog’s owner will not face charges, according to WGGB News.

Dog polar plunge

From WGGB:

The owner of a dog seen going into the waters of Spec Pond during a weekend fundraiser will not face charges.

On Saturday, over 150 people came out to Spec Pond in Wilbraham for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge, which raised money for Special Olympics Massachusetts.

Someone at that event took pictures of a six-year-old Labrador retriever, identified by town officials at Lincoln. In one picture, a man appears to have his hand on Lincoln, the next shows the dog plunging in, and in a third, the dog is submerged in the water.

Here’s the video. There’s a 15-second ad first.

Many people were concerned about the dog after photos went viral, and the Town of Wilbraham released a two-page statement outlining an investigation into the incident, according to WGGB.

The investigation found that:


  • Lincoln was in the water for 5 to 7 seconds, got out of the water and was immediately dried off.
  • He was taken to a warming area and then went home 10 minutes later.
  • Lincoln is an avid winter swimmer and often swims with a lifejacket when jumping into water while ice fishing with his owner.
  • Lincoln is in perfect health, and a veterinarian who examined him said he did not suffer ill effects from the incident.


“Law enforcement officials also explain that there was no malicious intent to hurt Lincoln during the Polar Plunge and that the incident was not an instance of animal cruelty, as defined by state law,” according to WGGB.

Full story

I have a Lab mix named Ace, and while he doesn’t have the thick, waterproof coat of a purebred Lab, he will also jump into icy waters and has done so in Minnesota’s Lake Superior when the water temp would’ve been about 33 degrees F (thanks to this site that records the Great Lakes’ water temps).

Here are some pictures to give you an idea, from early April 2009.

Iceburg Lake Superior

Lab jumping in Lake Superior

Lake Superior dog retrieving

Black Lab by campfire Lake Superior

Can we relax now?

Or do you disagree? Let me know what you think.

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