Duluth firefighters rescue dog who plunged 30 feet off cliff into Lake Superior

The dog was buffeted by waves and could not climb ashore.

A dog is rescued from a lake by two fire department members using a personal watercraft.
A Duluth Fire Department personal watercraft rescues Wim, a dog, from Lake Superior on Thursday while another fire department member reaches to help place the dog on board. According to the fire department, Wim accidentally went over the edge of a cliff and fell approximately 30 feet down to the water.
Contributed / Duluth Fire Department

DULUTH — Local firefighters were called to engage in an unusual water rescue at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, when they received a report that a dog had fallen off a cliff about 30 feet into the water below.

The dog, a German shorthaired pointer named Wim, was playing in the back yard of his owners' home in the 2800 block of London Road when he somehow went over the edge and plummeted into Lake Superior.

Assistant Fire Chief Brent Consie responded to the call and said the dog repeatedly reached shore but could not clamber out of the water due to the sheer terrain, and kept getting swept back out in to the lake by waves breaking against the shoreline. Consie said the clay cliff and trees made it difficult and potentially dangerous to attempt a rescue from shore. So, the Fire Department deployed Marine 1, a jet-propelled personal watercraft that enabled a rescue team to safely maneuver toward the dog before a swimmer set out into the water to retrieve it.

Two fire department members rescuing a dog from a lake while using a personal watercraft.
Two members of the Duluth Fire Department assist in rescuing Wim from Lake Superior on Thursday, placing the dog onto a personal watercraft.
Contributed / Duluth Fire Department

The wind was out of the east at 5 to 7 mph at the time, and while there were no whitecaps, Consie said about every fourth or fifth swell was large enough to wash over the side of Marine 1.

As firefighters approached, Consie said Wim responded by turning his back to shore and swimming toward the watercraft. The rescue swimmer jumped into the water, reached Wim and helped get him onboard Marine 1. Consie estimates the dog was in the water for about 20 minutes total.


Firefighters dried Wim off, wrapped him in blankets and then set off toward a gentler shoreline, where Wim could climb ashore.

"That was probably the hardest part — getting him off the Jet Ski — because he didn't want to go back into that cold water," Consie said.

But Wim finally did cooperate. Once back on shore, the dog was checked out by a veterinarian, who gave him a clean bill of health.

The rescue was admittedly out of the ordinary for the Duluth Fire Department, but Consie noted that the team understands that pets are really akin to household family members.

"We're not in the business of rescuing cats out of trees anymore. But if someone's pet is in dire danger, we'll be there," he said.

Two people rescue a dog from a lake while using a personal watercraft.
Wim rests on the shoulder of a Duluth Fire Department member Thursday after the dog was rescued from Lake Superior. Another fire department member reaches to help with placing Wim onto a personal watercraft.
Contributed / Duluth Fire Department

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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