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Falling into a forever home: 14-year-old foster dog who fell through ice is adopted by dispatcher and wife

Keith Polipnick, a dispatcher with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and his wife Jaci adopted the 14-year-old foster dog named Tom who was rescued by law enforcement after falling through ice. (Contributed)1 / 3
Tom rests in his new forever home, with the dispatcher who was on duty when he was rescued from falling through the ice. (Contributed)2 / 3
Sgt. Scot Umlauf and Deputy Grant Larson were called to a pond near Melby after a passerby reported a dog struggling on the ice. They were able to pull him to shore and warm him up at the sheriff’s office, and later located his foster home. (Contributed)3 / 3

An accident that nearly led to a 14-year-old foster dog's death ultimately had a silver lining, as a chow chow named Tom has now found his forever home.

On the evening of Thursday, Nov. 30, Sgt. Scot Umlauf and Deputy Grant Larson of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office were called to Railroad Road near Melby after a passerby reported seeing a dog struggling on the ice of a slough along a trail.

"We went out there and saw that he had fallen through, but not very far out," Umlauf said. "He wasn't able to get up and it must have been fairly deep there. He was definitely in distress."

Umlauf was able to step out on the ice while Larson held his hand from shore. He then grabbed Tom's collar and pulled him to shore. Umlauf says Tom was friendly and affectionate.

"He was very nice," Umlauf said. "One of my concerns was is he going to bite me? But when I pulled him out he was pushing up against me, trying to warm up."

Tom was unable to walk due to being so cold, so Larson and Umlauf took him to the sheriff's office, where they covered him in blankets and put him near a heater until locating his foster owners.

It was there that Keith Polipnick, a dispatcher with the sheriff's office, first laid eyes on the dog. He helped warm Tom up and cared for him until his foster owners retrieved him. Then he went home and told his wife Jaci about the dog. He brought up the idea of adopting him.

"My wife loves dogs, so she was open to it," he said. "My son has a Lab that we babysit whenever we can. We've been talking about it (getting a dog) for awhile and he (Tom) just kind of fell into our lap."

After being rescued, Tom went missing for a second time the next night. Polipnick caught wind of this and texted Dana Corso, the woman who had placed Tom with his current foster family. Corso is a volunteer for Road to Home Rescue Support, a New York-based nonprofit that helps animals in need and provides support to local rescues and shelters.

Polipnick's text read, "I would really love to have him. My wife and I have a one-story house on the lake. It would be a great place for him to finish his life."

Corso says she was elated to hear that the Polipnicks wanted to adopt Tom.

"I have to tell you, I almost cried," she said. "I knew that the first night he was there the people at the sheriff's office took amazing care of him. I know it was hard for his previous foster to let him go. They absolutely adored Tom, but that part of fostering is always the hard part."

Polipnick says Tom is adjusting well and seems happy.

"He's very content," he said. "I think he's still sore, and he sleeps a lot. But he's very happy."

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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