The sheep dipping season came early for these poor animals after they were chased into a canal by a dog.
The six sheep were spotted by a photographer who was on the bank of the Aire and Calder Navigation canal at Rawcliffe Bridge shortly after 11am on Saturday.
Sean Stewart called firefighters to help get the terrified animals out of the water.
Wakefield businessman Peter Lloyd, who runs Abbeydale BEC in Belle Vue, was saling his yacht from goole to Selby and helped with the rescue.
He said: “I was coming up the canal and just saw this sheep swimming past me. It was swimming quite strongly. I think it saw me and hoped I might assist it. But I was on my own and couldn’t do anything. Then I saw the firemen on the banks and realised they were pulling out other sheep.
“I shouted across because I didn’t know if they had realised there was one all the way down the canal. I took the firemen on the yacht across to where the sheep was and assisted in getting them and their equipment to the other side so the sheep could be rescued.”
Around 30 sheep had been chased onto the jetty by an alsation, six ended up in the water. Two crews from Humberside Fire Service, Mr Stewart, Mr Lloyd and the skipper of a passing narrowboat managed to save four of the animals although they were left cold and distressed after their ordeal. Two of the sheep died.
Mr Lloyd said: “All-in-all it was quite an eventful hour. The sheep were very cold, almost rigid, and the firemen had to resuscitate them. They couldn’t even stand up to start with. Two of the sheep died but it was quite a positive thing that we managed to save four. I have never seen anything like it. I never made it to Selby, I just went to Ferrybridge instead.”
Mr Stewart, a former Silcoates School pupil, said: “Two fire engines from Goole and Snaith rushed out in the thick fog to help rescue a flock of sheep that were in the canal, fighting for their lives. They had apparently been chased by a large alsation dog, according to one passing skipper, onto some pontoons before six of the terrified sheep jumped for their lives into the water in sheer panic.
“Firefighters put lengths of hose saround the sheep to secure them and eventually pull them out of the water.
“Crew and firefighters spent time with each sheep calming them down.”
Watch manager Andy Ellis, from Goole Fire Station, said: “We are grateful for the co-operation and assistance of the two boats and their crew.”