Milstein saves two dogs in distress

May 14, 2019

Marissa Milstein, ’18 DVM, PhD student, was out for a cathartic early winter hike with her dog, Miles, near Lake Elmo in November when two friendly German shepherds approached. “They played with my dog for a little bit and then ran off again. I never saw their owners,” says Milstein, who has hiked that area with her dog since she first started as a DVM student at the CVM.

As Milstein and Miles continued on their hike, they could hear the distressed cries of what Milstein suspected were the two German shepherds from earlier in her hike. Milstein couldn’t ignore it: “I crashed through the woods looking for them.”

It took a while, but when she finally found the two dogs, Milstein saw that they had fallen through a thin patch of ice in the lake—they were stuck and very cold. Milstein called 911 and a policeman from the Washington County Sheriff's Office responded. Milstein, the policeman, a parks department employee, and another concerned citizen worked together to extract the dogs from the freezing waters.

Once the team got the dogs back to shore, “they were showing signs of hypothermia,” Milstein says. “They could not move their muscles at all. We put them on the raft and we all threw our jackets on them to try and warm them up.” The team pushed the raft with the dogs on it up a hill to the trail. Then, they pulled the raft down the trail toward the Sheriff’s truck. “Once we got them into the truck, we took them to the Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota in St. Paul. “The staff there was able to get the dogs’ body temperature back up to normal,” says Milstein. “Then they were returned to their owners.”

Afterward, Milstein was invited to Stillwater City Hall for an awards ceremony on April 19, where she was awarded a Letter of Appreciation award for her actions. The experience left quite an impact on Milstein.

“As a veterinarian, I have a responsibility to promote animal health and welfare. Those two dogs were in a terrible situation, and I felt a responsibility to help in whatever way I could.”

Back at the CVM, Milstein is pursuing a PhD in veterinary medicine. She has conducted much research in the Amazon, where she collaborates with the Waiwai people on optimizing their food system for health and conservation.

Read more about Milstein’s research

Pictured above: Marissa Milstein and her dog Miles