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Dog rescued safely from Lake Champlain after jumping off ferry

Jumped overboard from Charlotte-to-Essex ferry Thursday night

CHARLOTTE, Vt. - "I pull up -- the car in front of me, I notice, has an Adirondacks sticker and also has a Burlington Police Department sticker, and I said, 'that's gotta be del Pozo, the chief, who just had the bicycle accident'," Smitty Marvin said.

That's how Marvin's ferry trip from Charlotte to Essex began Thursday night. He was on his way home to Elizabethtown from a trip to Burlington when his dog, Bentley, jumped off the ferry into the water.

It happened during the 8:00 ferry trip, and the boat was right about in the middle of the lake at the time, about two miles from either Charlotte or Essex.

"This is an eight-month-old, 95-pound yellow lab, so he goes wherever he wants to, pretty much, and I try to restrain him," Marvin said. "We took him to the right front corner of the boat, where you've got a four-foot metal wall, so I get him over a little bit so he can get his front paws up so he can see over the thing."

But Bentley quickly scaled the wall, landing in the lake.

Marvin was right, by the way; Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo was in the car in front of him. The two of them, and Marvin's son, Brock -- a BPD officer -- convinced the crew to shut down the engines.

"You see the dog pop up maybe 50 yards behind the boat, the dog recognizes 'I've gotta get back there' and started swimming," Marvin said. "Most everybody on the boat was either in panic mode or in take-action mode."

The crew was in the latter category. They got out two ladders, one of which unfolds into a small platform once it's extended. A crew member climbed down onto that platform and Bentley eventually swam over.

"You've just got to push him up the ladder. We'll bend over the ship as far as we can. They got him up within six feet of the top, and Tom (a crew member) and I were able to grab onto him, yank him over the top and get him back into the boat safely."

Bentley was tired, but he's been resting comfortably since his aquatic adventure.


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