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That “Southern hospitality” isn’t a myth — not even during a flood


A Columbia family worked together to rescue an 87-year old man and his dog after he got trapped in his car by rising floodwaters while passing through South Carolina.

Then the family fed him, gave him a shot of bourbon, called a doctor to look him over and invited him to stay the night.

Southern hospitality, it seems, is alive and well — even during a deluge.

George Osterhues, who lives in Canada, was on his way to Florida with his dog Tilli. He got off Interstate 77 because of the flooding, then got lost near a flood prone lake north of Columbia.

osterhues2The Hall family, who lived nearby, was going door to door to check on neighbors when they saw a hand waving from a car almost halfway underwater.

Inside, they could see a man and a dog.

Julie Hall, a Chester County prosecutor, called 911, but the family quickly decided rescuers probably had their hands full during the flooding.

Together, they decided to take action.

At first her husband, Tom Hall tried to reach the man in a canoe but the current was too rapid. Instead, he used ropes tied to trees to hold onto as he made his way to the car.

When he reached the car, the man told him he was “ready to die.”

osterhuesHall deemed that unacceptable.

“No way was that man going to die out there,” he told the Charlotte Observer.

Tom Hall gave the man a life jacket and pulled him and his Yorkshire terrier out the window, and the whole family, including sons Brice, Graham and Logan, helped to tug Osterhues and the dog to dry ground.

Then the family took him to their home for some warm tea, a shot of bourbon and a hot meal.

Julie Hall’s father, a doctor, came over to check on Osterhues, who stayed over Sunday night.

Osterhues, it turned out, is German-born, and a survivor of bombings and Nazi terror during World War II.

He and Tilla got a rental car for the rest of the trip to Florida.

Another police dog perishes in hot vehicle


Another police dog has died after being left in a police vehicle — this time one in Alabama whose purpose wasn’t law enforcement, but “community engagement.”

Mason was left by his handler in a hot patrol car without its air conditioning turned on June 18, and died the next night.

His handler, Corporal Josh Coleman, said he forgot that he’d left Mason in the car after attending a hurricane preparation conference in Gulf Shores.

A city press release offered little explanation of how that happened.

“On Thursday, June 18th, while transitioning between duties, Mason’s handler Corporal Josh Coleman forgot that Mason was still in the back seat of his patrol car. On discovering Mason’s absence Cpl. Coleman located him in the vehicle.”

The press release gave no indication of how long Mason was left inside the car. reports that the dog had entered the conference with Coleman, and had his picture taken at the event.

WISH-TV quoted a police sergeant as saying that Coleman left the dog in the car after the conference.

“He was going to take care of some paperwork in his office and he straight up forgot him,” says Woodruff. “Left him in the car.”

At some point, Coleman “discovered” him in the car. Mason was rushed to a local veterinarian, then transported to a vet in Penascola.

His condition seemed to be improving Friday morning, but died later in the evening.

The Gulf Shores Police Department acquired Mason on November 17, 2014, and had celebrated the dog’s third birthday on June 9.

While it was reported by some news outlets that Coleman would not face criminal charges, WISH reported the case will go to a grand jury. Coleman also faces “sanctions” from the police department and city.

According to the city press release, the department’s K-9′s usually travel in vehicles equipped with remote heat alarms, water bowls, and other protective measures.

“Because Mason’s duties did not include long periods in a vehicle, those protective measures were not available in his handler’s car,” it said.

The Gulf Shores Police Department might want to give that policy a second look — so its next “community relations” dog, if they get one, doesn’t turn into another public relations nightmare.

(Photo: Gulf Shores Police Department)

Homeless teacher and dogs get some help


An out-of-work English teacher has opted to live in her car for the past four months rather than give up her two dogs.

Hillary Barrows, 57, returned to England after teaching in other European countries and found herself unable to find work and unable to pay her rent.

She was offered emergency housing — but only if she agreed to give up her dogs, Robbie and Cleo.

Ever since, the English teacher has been living in her 20-year-old Alfa Romeo hatchback, with her dogs, in a parking lot in Canterbury, Kent, according to the Daily Mail.

The dogs are large ones — an eight-year-old Egyptian Pharaoh hound named Robbie and a five-year-old Labrador named Cleo. Both were rescued in Spain.

Barrows is divorced and has no family in England. Her mother lives in Canada, and the rest of her family has emigrated to New Zealand.

She has gone public with her plight in hopes of getting a job offer, or other help. More than 600 people have contributed to her Go Fund Me campaign, which has raised more than £9,000.

With a lap top and a cell phone (which she recharges at a nearby McDonalds), she’s continuing to hunt for jobs.

“I’ve applied for every job going, but nobody wants to hire me because I live in a car. I applied to a pub to be their cleaner, and they told me they couldn’t hire someone with no address. I’m between a rock and a hard place, really.”

While she said she’s eating one meal, every other day, her dogs are not going without food. She has been visited twice by RSPCA staff checking to see that the dogs are cared for.

“I am in a no-win situation — I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, I just want someone to give me a hand-up,” Barrows said.

“I just want to get back to work, get a house and somewhere safe for my dogs.”

(Photo: Tony Kershaw,

Charges dropped against veteran in Georgia who broke car window to save dog


Authorities have dropped the charges filed against a veteran who was arrested after breaking a window to save a dog left inside a hot car in a shopping center parking lot.

Michael Hammons, 46, an Iraq War veteran who lives in Athens, Ga., used a leg support from his wife’s wheelchair to smash out the window of a Mustang.

At the insistence of the angry dog’s owner, who said she’d only let the dog alone for five minutes, Hammons was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Thousands subsequently came to his defense online and called Hammons a hero, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which announced last week it will be awarding Hammons its Compassionate Action Award.

PETA officials noted that temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees — even on a mild, 78-degree day like Saturday, May 9, when the incident took place.

A local Ford dealer in Athens offered to replace the broken window for free, WXIA in Atlanta reported.

Current Georgia law allows someone to break a window to save a person, but not an animal. Hammons arrest led to a call to change that law, as a handful of other states have.

“The laws need to be changed to protect the animals, not necessarily the people,” said Mark Martin, a pet store owner who rallied around Hammons’ cause. “We are the voices for the animals; they can’t speak for themselves.”

Ken Mauldin, district attorney for the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.

Man arrested for saving dog locked in car


A Georgia man used a leg support from his wife’s wheelchair to smash the window of car containing a panting dog — and promptly got arrested.

Michael Hammons, a veteran of Desert Storm, said he saw a group of people standing around a Mustang in a shopping center parking lot in Athens, worrying about the safety of a small dog locked inside, without water.

“I just did what had to be done,” Hammons told 11 Alive in Atlanta.

Shortly after he broke the window, the dog’s owner came back to the car.

“She said you broke my window, and I said I did. She says why would you do that? I said to save your dog,” Hammons recounted.

Oconee County authorities said they arrested Hammons at the insistence of the car’s owner.

Georgia state law, while it allows rescuers to break a car window to save a child, doesn’t make that same allowance for those who do it to save dogs.

Chief Deputy Lee Weems said officers had no choice but to charge Hammons: “We didn’t want to charge him, but he told us he broke the windows and when you have a victim there saying she wants him charged, we had no other choice.”

Hammons wife, Saundra, said her husband suffers from PTSD and that he’s prone to coming to the rescue of those he perceives to be in danger.

“He has seen so much, and been through so much, his thing is he’s got to save him. Michael says I have to save lives because I couldn’t save everyone else over there,” she told Fox News in Atlanta.

The car’s owner said she had only been in the store for five minutes, but deputies issued her a citation as well.

“It wasn’t just five minutes like the lady stated, it was a lot longer,” Hammons said. “I personally felt the heat in the car; I saw the dog panting. This dog was in distress.”

“I’ve got PTSD, and I’ve seen enough death and destruction,” Hammons added. “And I didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”

Hammons said he’d do the same thing again.

“I knew there’d be consequences, but it didn’t matter. Glass? They make new glass every day. But they could never replace that dog.”

Dog travels 250 miles lodged in car bumper


Struck by a car and swallowed up behind the car’s bumper, a dog in China is reported to have traveled 250 miles before being extricated unharmed.

The stray dog ran out in front of a car driven by a man identified only as Mr. Zhang in China’s Hunan Province, according to Peoples Daily.

Zhang continued driving. “I was driving pretty quickly at the time so when I hit the dog, I thought it had either died or run away, so I didn’t get out of the car to check,” he later said.

When he heard whimpering and barking — apparently not until about 200 miles later —  he stopped the car and found the dog wedged between the car’s water tank and front bumper.

Afraid pulling the dog out might injure it, he got back in his car and drove to a veterinary clinic, where the dog was extricated and found not to have suffered any serious injuries.

Four days later, Zhang returned to the clinic and adopted the dog as his own.

Left for dead, pit bull’s tail is still wagging


She was a truck stop dog — or at least that’s where she seemed to spend most of her time.

Having no real home, and no official owner, she could most often be found at a truck stop in Moses Lake, Wash., taking advantage of the kindness of truckers and others who would pat her on the head and toss some food her way.

Sometime in February, she appeared to have met the fate of many a wandering stray. She was hit by a car on the highway and injured so severely that someone thought it best to put her out of her misery.

She was struck on the head with a hammer and left in a ditch.

A few days later the white pit bull mix —  dirty, limping and emaciated — showed up at a farm outside of town, with her tail wagging.

A farmhand took her to Moses Lake Veterinary Hospital, and the owner-less dog’s plight ended up being posted on Facebook.

When Sara Mellado, a Mose Lake resident, read the post, she offered to provide the dog a temporary home. Mellado, whose German shepherd had died just two weeks earlier, named the dog Theia.

“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” Mellado said. “She’s a true miracle dog, and she deserves a good life.”

Since then, Mellado has made several trips to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, where Theia has been treated for leg injuries, a dislocated jaw, and multiple fractures in her nasal bones that are believed to be a result of the hammer blows.

“When I brought her home, she hardly slept because breathing was such a chore,” said Mellado.

The veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment, and a GoFundMe campaign started by Mellado has, as of today, raised $12,000 — $2,000 more than its goal.

The money will be used to pay for Theia’s nasal passage surgery which will inolve installing  a stent to help reopen her nasal passages.

The surgery is scheduled for April 22, according to Washington State University News.

(Photo: Washington State University News)

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