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Man Saves a Stranger’s Dog from Icy Waters and is Deemed a Hero


A resident named Don Chatten in Buffalo, New York, is a dog-lover and has 2 rescue dogs which he regularly brings to the Bark Park at Ellicott Creek Park. There, the 2 dogs play off-leash and run about, enjoying the day with their human father. On Valentine’s Day 2019, Don took his dogs, Duke and Milo, to the park for a walk. When they were about to leave, an anxious man approached them, panicking, and asked Don if he saw Jackson, a little terrier. He said he did not but would help the man find his lost dog, and the men split up to search the area.

Don and his 2 dogs searched around the park but did not find the terrier. When they reached a pedestrian bridge that went over Tonawanda Creek, Duke and Milo stopped and started to whine. When Don looked down the bridge, he saw the tiny terrier on the icy water, struggling to keep his head above water.

Near the creek, Don noticed that there were 2 women, Mary Balicki and Samantha Kelly, standing and looking at the poor terrier in the icy water. Mary was about to call 9-1-1 when Don said that the terrier may not be able to make it that long. When Don also noticed that the owner was nowhere to be found, he took matters into his own hands. He handed Mary his flannel shirt and wallet, then jumped into the icy water to save the dog. Fortunately, Don grew up in the area, so he knew where the parts of the creek were shallow.

“I kind of crawled up on the ice,” Don Chatten said. “The ice gave away… At that point, I was up to my waist in water, but I knew it was shallow because I knew that park… I knew it was shallow, so I just kind of broke the ice and pulled the dog out.”

Don quickly reached the dog and took him out of the icy water. However, Don took another path back to dry land and broke more ice on the way. When he was near the shore, he was having trouble breathing, but fortunately, Don made it safely back to shore with the little terrier.

Mary and Samantha were amazed by Don’s heroic action.

“Not many people would jump in for someone else’s dog,” Mary told The Buffalo News. “He just saw a situation, and he just handled it.”

Don returned Jackson to his grateful human father, who rushed the soaking terrier to the vet. Thankfully, the dog was okay and uninjured! Samantha shared the photos of the daring rescue on a group on Facebook, and Don was soon deemed a hero. However, Don said he was not the hero. His dogs, Duke and Milo, were the ones who spotted Jackson.

“I just did the grunt work,” Don Chatten said.

In May 2019, the American Red Cross of Western and Central New York presented Don Chatten with an Animal Rescue Hero Award. He deserved the award since he risked his life to save a stranger’s dog from drowning in icy waters. What an amazing rescue!

Here is the video of Don Chatten rescuing Jackson, the terrier, from icy waters:

Credits to: WKBW TV | Buffalo, NY/YouTube

Images credits from Facebook: © Samantha Kelly and American Red Cross of Western and Central New York



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