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Firefighters defend saving dog from river

Los Angeles authorities have responded to critics of the massive effort to save a German shepherd trapped in the Los Angeles River.

“All life is important,” fire department captain Steve Ruda said Monday.

About 50 firefighters, a helicopter and swift water rescue teams responded to assist the German shepherd stuck in the rising Los Angeles River, whose steep concrete banks kept the dog from getting out.

The dog, nicknamed Vernon after the city where he was rescued, remained in quarantine at the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority shelter in Downey, south of Los Angeles.

While the rescuers who saved the dog on Friday have been widely hailed as heroes, they have also been vilified by a few in blogs, on social networks and story comment sections, the Associated Press reported.

“You’re not going to please everybody. There’s always 10 percent, they either don’t like animals or think we are wasting taxpayer money,”  said Ruda.

Joe St. Georges, 50, the 25-year firefighting veteran who hoisted Vernon to safety, lost a fingernail and fractured a thumb when the dog bit him during the rescue, video of which was televised nationally and shown on many Internet sites.

The dog, about 4 years old and 65 pounds, was eating everything given to him and sleeping well, said Capt. Aaron Reyes, director of operations for the  shelter. If no owner shows up, Reyes said, “we do have a mile-long list of people who want him.”

If Vernon hadn’t been rescued, Reyes said, he would have likely died. “Do you just wait at the mouth of the river and wait for the carcass? Any way you slice it, that is unacceptable. They would not have been able to live that down,” Reyes said. “They made a decision and we support that decision.”

Comments

Comment from Jenn Martinelli
Time January 26, 2010 at 11:33 am

People who complain about this just love to complain about anything. It’s not like they built the helicopter and hired the firefighters to save the dog. It’s perfectly acceptable, and in fact, it’s the only right thing to do of course. Poor pup.

Comment from Jill
Time January 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Gina Spadafori from the Pet Connection Blog (http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2010/01/23/thank-l-a-s-dog-saving-firefighter-joe-st-georges/) started a Facebook page to say thank you to Mr. St. Georges, the man that actually went into the water. Take a look at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thank-LAs-dog-saving-fire-fighter-Joe-St-Georges/290125668382?ref=nf if you want to add your thoughts, too.

Comment from Mary Haight
Time January 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for the great followup…I was wondering what happened to the firefighter’s hand during the rescue! And if the authorities did not attempt a rescue, dog rescuers would have. In all liklihood trouble would have resulted.

Comment from marta rodriguez
Time January 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Thank God for the firefighters that recognize that animals are living creatures and need us to keep them save. God bless you George

Comment from Deece
Time January 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Anyone who would complain about this innocent dog’s life being saved is a jerk and void of compassion.

Comment from John
Time January 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Good for LAFD. Been a firefighter in NJ for 32 years and I feel that same way every day. We have the training and skills to rescue all forms of life and will continue to do so on a daily basis!

Comment from EJMalyn
Time January 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Anyone who would complain about any animal being saved is someone who has no compassion at all. Man’s best friend would take a bullet to protect his Master…shows that animals do show more compassion then alot of people out there…it’s called “unconditional love”. My many, many thanks to the Los Angeles Fire Dept. risking their lives to save this pup. Very happy to hear that you are doing well George. Thank You again!

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