A woman who rushed into a freezing East Vancouver lake to rescue a dog that fell through the ice is being hailed as a hero.

Even more incredibly, the dog that wandered out onto Trout Lake and crashed into the frigid water Friday morning didn't even belong to her, according to witnesses.

"This woman, without hesitation, just started trudging out into the water," said Ben West, who watched with amazement from the lakeshore. "She took off her jacket and was breaking through the ice with her hands."

West told CTV News he was walking through the park with his partner when they spotted the dog on the ice. Several people, including the owner, watched in horror as the animal fell through, but before anyone had time to react a brave stranger had already stepped up.

"People were trying to tell her not to go out because they were worried about her getting hypothermia, but she was like, it doesn't matter – I need to do this," West said.

As she pushed her way into the lake, the dog struggled and failed to escape the icy water. West said it was a terrible thing to see.

"The dog was frantically swimming," he said. "It was panicking and treading water and it kept trying to climb back onto the ice but the ice would break."

The woman pushed forward as far as she could until the water reached just below her shoulders, and bystanders called for the dog to encourage it to move her way.

West said the dog continued breaking through the ice until it could finally reach its rescuer, who helped pull it back to the shore.

By then, others had called for an ambulance and brought towels and blankets to wrap around both the woman and the dog. One man helped her to his family's home across the street so she could warm up while they waited for paramedics to arrive.

West, who managed to record some of the rescue on his camera, said it appeared the woman would be OK – and so would the dog, thanks to her quick response.

"Honestly, it was the most heroic thing I'd ever seen in my life," he said. "It was the kind of thing you'd see on the internet."  

Sean Healy, the Vancouver Park Board's aquatics supervisor, said he was troubled that the dog was anywhere near the lake's surface.

"In many cases, there's no ice. We just have a perimeter ice, but there is no ice covering the lake," he told CTV.

"Make sure to avoid throwing any balls or any kind of toys onto the water's surface."

Ice can be deceptive, looking thick and strong in parts but having hidden weak points underneath. The edge of Trout Lake was riddled with spider cracks on Friday afternoon.

There are no signs warning of thin ice on Vancouver lakes because there is barely any ice to begin with, the board said.




This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen with my own eyes. A dog went out on the ice and fell through at Trout Lake and without hesitating this woman went out in the water breaking the ice with her hands and rescued the dog!?! It wasn't even her dog. I'm so inspired and so happy it all worked out for the best. I saw the dog fall through the ice and screamed out. Community members all rushed to help and support her. We were all calling the dog's name so it would keep swimming. She was rushed to a house in the neighbourhood and put in a warm bath while the paramedics were enroute. A few of us then had to chase this woman's dog around in circles in the park as she looked for her owner. We finally got her and brought back to her owner. Wow... #dogs #eastVan #picoftheday #hero #yvr

A post shared by Ben West �� (@_ben_west_) on