Dog rescues freezing bald eagle that was facing certain death

Kenai helped rescue a freezing bald eagle near Lake Superior.
Kenai helped rescue a freezing bald eagle near Lake Superior. Photo: Courtesy of Wildwoods

Kerrie Burns and Pam Weber were walking along the Sucker River where it meets Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, when Burns’ dog, Kenai, began barking.

Kenai, a 3-year-old golden retriever, had spotted a bald eagle sitting in the brush and she kept on barking.

“Shortly after this the eagle hopped out of the vegetation down to the shore line,” Burns told GrindTV in an email. “She fortunately has been trained not to chase wildlife.  Once she alerted me and I saw what she was looking at she stopped barking.”

Oddly, as they got closer, the bald eagle didn’t fly away.

“Thinking that it was a little peculiar to see an eagle standing on the shore with us present, we very slowly walked toward it,” Burns said. “As we did this, the eagle continued to hop away from us. Clearly there was a problem. At this point we retreated and walked home, both because it was getting dark and because it was too icy to safely proceed.”

The bald eagle was ailing with frozen feathers and a shoulder injury.
The bald eagle was ailing with frozen feathers and a shoulder injury. Photo: Courtesy of Wildwoods
Farzad Farr of Wildwoods examined the bald eagle.
Farzad Farr of Wildwoods examined the bald eagle. Photo: Courtesy of Wildwoods

When they returned the next day, the bald eagle was still there, so they contacted the Department of Natural Resources. Burns, Weber and two women from DNR worked together to catch the bald eagle, which was taken to Wildwoods, a wildlife rehabilitation organization.

The eagle had a shoulder injury, and some of its feathers were frozen. Believing the injury was fixable, the staff gave the eagle fluids and pain medication and had Burns and Weber take it to The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.

Jamie Karlin, a veterinary technician, told GrindTV in an email that the bald eagle was suffering from high clinical lead levels, a heart murmur and swelling of the left shoulder.

“The bird has undergone one round of lead chelation (a process which binds the lead and allows it to be excreted),” Karlin said. “The bird’s prognosis is fair.

“Lead treatment takes time and the extent of damage from lead is still uncertain. Some lead cases can take several months to a full year or more make a full recovery if the lead hasn’t damaged their heart or organs too severely.”

Which is a far better prognosis than what it was facing before Kenai found it.

“The eagle would’ve slowly starved without help,” Peggy at Wildwoods said.

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