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Good Samaritans save the life of a dog stuck in riverbank for days

Dogart_thumb By Ellen | August 30, 2012 | Comments (16)

dog rescued from muddy riverbank
Justin Monette (left), Ian DeBack (center) and a camper save a trapped dog 

Co-workers and friends Justin Monette and Ian DeBack were out Friday evening enjoying a paddle on the Shell River in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, when they spotted a black Labrador Retriever. The dog was sitting near the shoreline and appeared to them like he was simply relaxing and watching the boats go by.

But on Sunday, when Justin was out paddling again in the same spot, he was surprised to see the dog again. The dog was lying down and having a hard time keeping his head above water.

Upon seeing him, Justin realized the dog had been stuck in the thick sediment along riverbank. Justin could tell the dog was exhausted and in distress. He managed to reach his family and the police with his call phone, but Justin knew it was up to him to help the dog as soon as he can.

He told the Prince Albert Daily Herald, "I didn’t know if he was alive or not. But when I noticed him trying to struggle to keep his nose above the water and he looked over at me - that was it for me."

When he got out of his kayak to help the dog, the dog made a "gurgly sound" instead of a bark. "It was awful. Poor little guy," said Justin. He tried to pull him out, but quickly realized he'd need help extracting the dog.

Coincidentally, Ian and his family were also out for a paddle at that very same time and happened by. Both men were surprised to see one another. Ian and his kids immediately joined in to help Justin free the dog. The two men, however, could not pull the dog from the cement-like mud. 

Ian thought to check a nearby field and found the Shell River Campground. He recruited some campers to help. They brought a shovel and all-terrain vehicle. The group got to work and finally freed the limp dog from the mud. They gently placed him in the kayak to transport him to the all-terrain vehicle.

Otis is freed from the river

The dog was shaking badly from the cold and was waterlogged. A few of the campers recognized the dog as having been seen near a country house nearby a few days earlier. The rescue crew went to the home with the dog right away.

The home belonged to Robert and Theresa Fahlman, who greeted them and said that it wasn’t their dog but thought it might be their neighbor's. Seeing the dog needed immediate care, they set up a bed with heaters and sleeping bags to warm him up.

The Fahlman family took over care for the dog. They cleaned him, warmed him up and let him rest. Unable to lift his own head, the family fed him milk with a syringe and checked on him every few hours throughout the night. By early morning, the dog was starting to breath normally and welcoming the milk. 

The Fahlman's neighbor learned of the incident and visited the Fahlmans, confirming that the dog did indeed belong to her and that his name Otis. Seeing the quality of care he was receiving, she and the Fahlmans agreed it was best not to move him until he had rested and regained more strength.  Otis was getting his strength back and later on Monday morning, he was finally able to get around, although he was still wobbly on his feet.

On the road to recovery, Theresa Fahlman said, "He's an amazing dog. And I’m glad for my neighbor's sake that he pulled through."



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Comments on this Article

There are obviously facts we don't know about the situation. Did the owners look for the dog or report him missing? We don't know, but it seems crystal clear that the owner never told their neighbor that the dog was missing and to keep an eye out.
@Jesse and Judee, it's not easy to know that we live in a world where pets,dogs especially don't have the same value to us all. Both of you bought up great points in your posts that reaffirm what I felt all along, Otis is to GOOD for these people...The sad part is Otis loves his humans unconditionally.
to marisol, if u r still following this post, my hat's off 2 u for sticking to yr guns with so many ppl in disagreement---there r at least 2 more of us who r with u all the way!
sry to all u pollyannas out there, but i, too see a neglectful owner here, or at the very least a lassez-faire one:"O drat, my dog's gone missing, hope he turns up!" and that type does NOT deserve the amazing love of a dog, period. she "learned of the incident"...o, really? if she'd been really looking for Otis, everyone within 100 miles would've seen his pic on a poster, someone would have rushed to call her and say "we've found yr dog!" and she'd have FLOWN there and taken Otis home even if it meant carrying him on her back---i would have and so would everyone i know who loves their dog. yes, it is awesome that these folks rescued him; when he's all well, someone who will love him should have him. and yes, i DO often see the worst in ppl because all too often, there it is...
Well, this might sound negative but I have to agree... what DID the owners do???? And why wasnt a VET called in immediately by the owner after she was made aware he was found? Heck, I would AIRVAC my own personal vet into wherever whenever regardless if I had to sell everything I owned to save my dog..So yes Im glad Otis is alive but the owners? I'd have them under truth serum with interrogation lights blazing before Id release him back to them..LOL then again.. Im VERY passionate about animals (can ya tell? LOL)
So glad to hear the dog is safe and happy
@Deb, please don't and I repeat don't lump me in with your reference of "what is wrong with the world today". You and I obviously disagree with this. It's called a difference of opinion. I didn't miss your sentence. You're right I don't know these people that didn't go looking for their dog. All I do know, if the would have tried looking for him, they would have found him buried in mud..
@ Marisol you completely missed my first sentence. News articles don't tell you everything. Its obvious to me from the article that they only interviewed the people who found him and the people who were caring for him. The reporter did not get the owners side of the story. That is why we cannot assume the owner didn't try to find him. This is what is wrong with our world is people jump to conclusions and assume the worst of people they don't even know.
@Deb, It's a wonderful thing and I'm thrilled beyond words that Otis is alive and well, But no thanks to his owners. Strangers with a heart and soul saved this furbaby. Even if they had reported Otis missing, the article would have included that. I too see the positive even in this messed up world we live in. People neglecting their pets, tossing them out like garbage, including physical abuse, because of all of this, I need to have a positive attitude. I would be the first to apologize to the owners if proved wrong. But you know something, I don't think I am. And yes I do know what ass u me means...
@ Marisol, the thing with news articles is they don't tell you everything and to believe that any news article is the whole truth and nothing but the truth is just crazy. We have no idea what the owner did or didn't do. And to assume that the owner did nothing is very negative. And we all know what assume means ;). I prefer to see the positive in things and knowing that Otis is now safe is what this story is about. @Dan, thank you, I like you prefer to see the positive in this story and celebrate that Otis is alive and well :)
This is story of a successful dog rescue. Thanks so much 2 all the people involved in saving Otis. We don't know if the owner was negligent, so let's just B happy that the good people worked together & saved a life! Love U Otis . . .
Deb Sanford, you are very wise indeed to take what you see and go with it, instead of imagining the worst and condemning without proof or enough information. It is just very fortunate for Otis, that Jason and Ian and all of the other were able to extract him from the mud bank to allow him to recover sufficiently at the neighbors home. Outstanding job, all around.
@Deb, I would think if these people did do something to find Otis, the article would have stated so. I for one would not want an article printed of my pet being lost without all the facts being publicized. Until I read otherwise, sorry but MY opinion is the don't deserve Otis, if in fact they did nothing to find him. It's not like people don't do this. Just the other day, a dog left on a mountain side by owner who couldn't carry him down after HE took him on a hike, poor baby's paws were raw and couldn't walk. It took strangers to rally together ,and THEY saved this dog. Owner is now in be charged w/animal cruelty.
The article doesn't say what if anything this owner did to find her dog. The article is about the rescue of Otis. She could have been out searching on a daily basis. Just because the article doesn't state something doesn't mean it didn't happen. Its not up to us to judge when we don't know the entire story. The main thing is Otis was found before it was too late. This is a story with a happy ending, just leave it at that.
I definitely agree with Marisol! I am just over the moon the Otis is ok! So thankful for people like the guys and the neighbors that did the right thing and saved Otis! It kind of makes me believe in humanity again! Would love an update on Otis! <3
I don't understand how your family pet goes missing for not one, but for a few days and you do what??? Sit home waiting for someone to find it, dead or alive? They don't deserve Otis.
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