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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Small Miracles Come Together

Looks are decieving, thesse canals are Deep, Dark and Dangerous!
Several small miracles came together over the last 24 hours that saved a dog's life and will reunite her and her companion with their worried owners.
We received a distressed call from a man named Mark. He was walking his dog along one of the many canals that run through our county near his home and spotted two dogs, a Yellow Lab mix going in and out of the steep concrete embankment and the other a Golden Retriever swimming and then trying desperately to get up the embankment. The Golden tried and tried to get up and out. Her companion keep going in and out to encourage her to get out. When Mark reached them he could tell the Golden was exhausted. He had no idea how long before he came upon them that she had been in the water trying to get out. He made several attempts to try to reach her without putting himself into the deep swift moving water. These canals are deep, fast and dangerous. He knew he and the dog needed help and fast. So he called us.
I heard the call over the radio being transmitted to our dispatcher from the county operator. I was just getting ready to leave the shelter at the beginning of my shift. With instructions from my dispatcher LB and my Director 473, I made sure I had the equipment necessary. We also called Fire Dispatch to have Fire Rescue sent out to.
I rushed to the scene, which thankfully was only about 20 minutes away. Director 473 was following close behind. Upon arriving Fire was already there. They were trying to figure out the best way to get to the dog who at this time was swimming on the other side, moving further and further downstream. The Golden's companion ran along the bank keeping a watchful eye on his partner, making sure she could see him. He was as desperate to get her out as the rest of us. She tried to go up the bank on the other side only to slide back into the water again. You could see how tired she was as she struggled. To add to her stress now she could see so many people that were trying to save her, she didn't understand and was spooked by all the commotion remaining at the other side of the canal. Fire was preparing to call out the swift water rescue boat as she was going further and further down stream. I had a lasso in hand and Director 473 had the catch pole hoping for her to come back to our side and we could try to rope her or snag her with either.
It was about this time that Mark spoke up, he had built a trust in his short time with the Golden and had caught her attention several times calling to her. He asked if we could all stand back a little and see if she would come to him once more. I had leashed up the Lab and handed Mark my lasso. I kept the lab close to the edge of the water so the Golden could see him and he could see her. The fire rescue team had concerns that Mark would fall in and then we would have another rescue. But I had faith in Mark. He sat down where the Golden could see him. The fire rescue and 473 stood back behind Mark so if anything happened they could jump into action. Mark called to the Golden and prepared the rope. She turned and swam across the current towards him. I think everyone held their breath as she got closer to him and he tossed the lasso loop. Miracle! The loop dropped over her! She kept swimming towards him right to the bank and he was able to get the loop closed around her and pulled her up the steep concrete to him. We could all breath again. And she was finally safe out of the water.
(Now I do have to quickly interject here that we do not recommend trying to save a distressed animal in these types of situations where your own safety is at risk! This was an unusual and extreme situation with emergency personnel on hand! We do not make it a habit of having civilians put themselves in harms way to do our jobs. This again was a very unique situation, the most necessary course of action and had a good outcome.)
Mark was definitely a hero! We thanked him profusely for his diligence and assistance. Words really don't do justice for someone who steps forward like that. We reunited both dogs with each other. The Lab was overjoyed to have his companion safely on dry land. We loaded the dogs up and I drove them back to the shelter to have our Shelter Vet, Dr. B, give the Golden a once over. He was standing by at the shelter waiting for my arrival.
The Golden's front feet were bloodied from her desperate clawing at the side of the concrete canal. She had worn her nails down a bit and a couple of her pads were worn smooth and bled a little. Dr. B checked her out and determined she would be fine overnight  at the shelter and he would recheck her in the morning to make sure she didn't have any lasting effects or water damage to her lungs. I dried her off and warmed her up before housing in a kennel with a nice fuzzy blanket. I did the same for her companion and house them in kennels next to each other. The Golden was already snoozing when I brought her companion into the kennel room. Sadly, neither dogs had ID or microchips so we had no way of contacting the owners. We could only hope that they were missing their dogs and would contact out shelter to find them.
Golden Retriever
Yellow Lab Mix

I was so pleased with the outcome of this rescue I posted a Face book status about it. Little did I know what that would lead to. I received several comments from well wishes for the dogs and their hero, Mark. I also received a message from a news station wanting information on the rescue. I referred them to Director 473. Fast forward to this morning. I was lazing in bed on my day off after being on the late shift. Even my own dogs jumping on me wasn't going to get me out of the covers. They had their breakfast and had access to the outside they just wanted me to get up so they could steal my warm spot and blankets!
However, I was laying there browsing my face book from under the covers when I came upon a message to me from one of our wonderful Shelter Volunteers. Volunteer LD had received a desperate Face book status from some family friends that was for their pair of missing dogs. They were missing from the same area, and descriptions matched. I asked her to send me pictures of the dogs. Email received. I saw the dogs and could say they were the same dogs by 98%! Never say 100%, because well you never know. So the word went out to the owners. Dogs Found and Safe! Well the owners, unfortunately are in Texas on vacation. The dogs were being cared for by friends. So now the messages going back and forth from me to LD to owners to family friends who will be picking dogs up for the owners. I contacted shelter manager TD and dispatcher LB to let them know all that has now transpired. On top of this I also got a call from Hero Mark asking how the dogs were doing and that if no owner came forward he would be more than happy to give these dogs a home. I was able to let him know that we had found the owners and were making arrangements for them all being reunited. He was grateful, if not a little disappointed. He really did form a bond with these dogs.
Another little miracle was told to me by our hero Mark. You see, Mark told me he usually doesn't walk the canal at that time of day because it is usually too hot. But since the weather was cool and cloudy that day, he didn't follow his usual routine of walking in the morning or later in the evening. Had he not been there at that time I don't think the outcome would have been the same as it was. Whoever says miracles don't happen, is wrong! 

How could this have been a happier ending? If the dogs hadn't been swimming in the canal of coarse, but dogs get out and do silly dog things that can put them in danger. However, if the dogs had Licenses, Microchips, or ID. Any of these would have brought the dogs home immediately and have saved them from a trip to the Shelter.
Abbey the Golden Retriever and Issak the Yellow Lab Mix will soon be on their way home, and you can be sure they will have ID from this point on.
Abbey's "Missing" Picture

Issak's "Missing" Picture