River rescue: Firefighters pull dog, woman to safety from fast-flowing Mill River 

  • Northampton firefighter Ethan Sicard, right, helps Suzanne Forman of Northampton dry off her 13-year-old goldendoodle, Sienna, after she was rescued from the Mill River near Maines Field in Florence by other Northampton Fire Rescue personnel on Monday morning. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2021 11:39:19 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A fire rescue team saved a nearly 14-year-old dog from the rain-engorged Mill River on Monday morning after responding to a call that the dog and a person were in the water.

The rain and wind from Hurricane Henri, which had been downgraded to a tropical depression, were seemingly over Monday morning in Florence. But the aftereffects of the storm continue to make the region’s bodies of water potentially dangerous places — something Suzanne Forman’s goldendoodle Sienna was unfortunate enough to experience when getting a drink from the Mill River on her usual walk at Maines Field.

A dog walker was on a stroll with Sienna near the river when the strong current got ahold of the dog. After getting a frantic phone call, Forman came right down and got into the water to help.

“Thank God for cellphones,” Forman said. “I just ran right down.”

Northampton Fire Rescue was quickly on the scene, where the dog was trapped against a recently fallen tree by the current and Forman was fighting the current trying to save Sienna.

Putting on water rescue suits — combination wetsuits and flotation devices — firefighters were quickly able to pull the two from the water and to safety.

“This is what they train for,” Northampton Police Detective Sgt. Corey Robinson said on the scene, describing the speed with which the fire rescue team arrived and jumped into action. “He was able to rescue her and the dog relatively quickly.”

Sienna was trembling when she came out of the water, but she appeared to be OK.

“You guys are the best,” Forman told the rescuers after the ordeal was over.

In a statement posted on social media, Northampton Fire Rescue noted that although the rain wasn’t as heavy as expected on Sunday, it has been an exceptionally wet summer and water levels are still high in the area’s rivers and streams.

“Please stay clear of any bodies of water at this point in time,” the post states. “More rainfall is still expected, which will exacerbate the issue. Again, please avoid the rivers and streams in our area!”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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