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Firefighter bitten during daring river rescue

The dog whose helicopter rescue from a rain-swollen river was captured by television cameras Friday is doing fine.

Despite getting bitten, the Los Angeles firefighter who rescued him is too.

Firefighter Joe St. Georges, 50, received at least one bite after splashing into the Los Angeles River to retrieve the frightened German shepherd. But, after his release from a hospital, he said he has no hard feelings against the dog.

“I knew the dog was scared and tired. It’s not too surprising that it was really upset with this big, loud noisy thing blowing all over it,” Fox News quoted St. Georges as saying. “And then some guy comes and jumps on its back — what a surprise the dog bit me.”

The dog, who wore no identification, has been nicknamed Vernon, after the town where he was found. He will be held for five days to allow time for an owner to claim him, after which he will be put up for adoption. Hundreds of families have already volunteered.

Vernon “appears to be well-maintained and cared for,” said Sgt. Charles Miller of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey, Calif.

At least 50 firefighters responded to reports that the dog was in the river on Friday afternoon. For an hour, they throwing life vests and float rings from the river’s steep, concrete banks. Later, a helicopter was used to lower St. Georges into the river, where he wrestled with the dog and, despite getting bitten, held on as the helicopter hoisted the two to safety.

At a late afternoon news conference, helicopter pilot Scott Bowman said St. Georges took a muzzle with him but he wasn’t able to get it on, “so he decided to go for the capture.”


Comment from gft
Time January 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Way to go Joe!
Great job, you’re my hero.