'Another reason to love the job': Ostrich ice rescue! - WNEM TV 5

'Another reason to love the job': Ostrich ice rescue!

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Courtesy: Fire Chief Steve McGee Courtesy: Fire Chief Steve McGee
Courtesy: Fire Chief Steve McGee Courtesy: Fire Chief Steve McGee
Courtesy: Fire Chief Steve McGee Courtesy: Fire Chief Steve McGee

A Michigan fire chief called it another reason to love the job – ostrich ice rescue!

Dispatch received a call Wednesday about 5 p.m. from a man who said his ostrich had escaped and was stuck on a lake of ice.

Fire Chief Steve McGee said the female ostrich, Betsey, escaped its enclosure at a farm on Buckle Lake Road in Groveland Township. The bird ventured to a water-filled gravel pit behind the farm and got stuck about 600 feet out.

The ostrich weighed at least 400 pounds, McGee said, and could not walk back to land because of the slick ice.

The owner called the fire department and rescue crews had to use a mega move, ropes and several other devices to bring the large bird in.

“We save an occasional dog or horse, but an ostrich is definitely a surprise,” McGee said.

The owner also suggested crews put a blanket over the bird’s head to help calm it down, McGee said.

Luckily, no one was hurt.

McGee said the township recently passed an ordinance that banned exotic animals and the ostrich was supposed to be picked up the day before, but the arrangements didn’t work out. 

"It's pretty unusual to rescue an animal like that," said Captain John Williams, with the Groveland Township Fire Department.

Acting Fire Marshall Jeremy Watson said it was a rescue he won't soon forget.

"She was approximately about 1500 yards out onto the ice. We suited up in our ice rescue equipment, my partner Russ Aderhalt, Capt. John Williams. And we approached the bird, we approached the bird kind of carefully. We didn't want to startle her. She was already pretty exhausted from her duration on the ice," Watson said.

Betsey's owner Dennie Elie and his son Joseph said they were worried sick as the ostrich and rescue crew were in real danger out on the ice.

"She was pretty traumatized, but I tell ya, she's home and she's happy. She's eating. She's a little bruised up, but she's doing good," Elie said.

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