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Kansas Woman Falls Through Ice – Would You Risk Your Life for a Dog?

I do not believe any dog is worth a person’s life.

It’s hard to write that, but it’s what I believe. I would never want anyone to risk his or her life to save my dog.

My husband Josh and I have talked about this before. It’s hard to know what a person will do in an emergency, but I’ve told him several times to never risk his life for our dog. I’ve agreed to the same.

Possible scenarios we’ve mentioned include running back into a house fire to save a pet, walking out onto thin ice or swimming out into dangerous water.

Of course, some situations are not quite so serious, and all anyone can do in the moment is use his or her best judgement.

Sadly, a young woman died Sunday in Kansas while running out onto thin ice after her dog.

Wichita woman falls through ice while trying to save her dog

The 28-year-old fell through the ice and died Sunday. The story is reported by WIBW of Topeka, Kan. (Image from WIBW.)

The woman’s dog ran out onto a frozen pond when it saw another dog, according to the article. The woman then ran out after her dog and once they were in the middle of the pond, the ice broke and they both fell through.

Woman falls through ice in Wichita while trying to save dog


A witness tried to help the woman, but he couldn’t reach her and she went under.

“The ice, we’re far enough south that the ice doesn’t freeze or stay frozen,” said Wichita Water Rescue Firefighter Paul Gonzalez. “It’s very, very thin ice and so the recommendation is always stay off the ice.”

A crew of six rescuers went out onto the icy water trying to rescue the woman. Divers found her at the bottom of the eight-foot-deep lake about 30 minutes later. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wichita Police Sargent John Ryan said people should never trust the ice on a Kansas lake.

What we can learn from this

The above story is so sad, but I hope those of us who love dogs can learn something from it.

Most of my readers like to go on hikes and adventures with their dogs, and you just never know what might happen.

Josh and I go on backpacking trips where our dog spends a lot of time off leash. We’ve also spent a lot of time with Ace around frozen lakes and rivers and lately, visiting the ocean.

Thankfully, we haven’t had any really close calls, but there have been a few that made us realize you can never be too careful around cliffs, wildlife, currents and so on. And even a well-trained dog will do incredibly stupid things at times.

While you can’t prepare for everything, I hope this story will remind all dog lovers to hesitate before putting themselves in danger for the sake of a dog.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of 28-year-old Erika Owen of Wichita.

Have you had any close calls while out hiking or walking your dog?

Lisa West

Friday 13th of March 2015

Without a doubt I would risk my life for my dogs. They are like my children. That said as with my children I am always cognizant of their safety. Dogs are like two year olds who never grow up. If I wouldn't let my child do something I don't let my dogs do it. In really dangerous situations like narrow trails I not only have them on leashes but add a harness so they can be hauled back if they fall. For those who might think my dogs are not allowed to be dogs, we participate in field trials where they get to do what they were bred for in controlled conditions.

Barbara Rivers

Wednesday 11th of March 2015

This is a really difficult topic to think & talk about, and I honestly don't know how I would react in a life threatening situation. That being said, I would & will do anything in my power to avoid putting our pups in dangerous situations. Ian & I never let the pups run off-leash when we're hiking because we're both scared of what might potentially happen. We don't have any cliffs or ponds in our immediate surroundings, but you never know about wildlife being present or packs of loose dogs. Sigh.


Wednesday 11th of March 2015

Good post. Not a topic any of us wants to think about, but one we probably all should. One way to think about it is how many years of life one is sacrificing. At 46 I've got several dog lifetimes ahead of me still (one would hope.) What will happen to my future dogs if I kick off now? :-) Plus, as much as we love our dogs, they're not supporting our kids financially. Harsh economic reality wins the day in my book. That said, I love our dogs and have done some pretty stupid things for them over the years...


Wednesday 11th of March 2015

I agree with Kimberly, I'd have a really tough time doing nothing.


Wednesday 4th of March 2015

Every time I read one of these stories I think about how hard it would be not to want to jump in and save my dog. The most heartbreaking story I ever heard is one that happened very close to where I live. Several years ago a family with young children took a hike near a dam on Christmas day after the family celebrated adopting a new puppy into their family that morning. The puppy fell into the water near the dam and one parent jumped in to save the puppy, followed by the second parent. All three didn't survive and it still breaks my heart when I think about the kids left behind and how something so tragic could happen on Christmas day, no less. I think it's a smart idea to talk about these stories and discuss a plan ahead of time to avoid an impulsive action ending in tragedy. Sorry, this was kind of a bummer comment.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 4th of March 2015

Oh my gosh, I had not heard that story, and that is so sad. Ugh.