LOS ANGELES - On September 2, 2013, Los Angeles Firefighters tenaciously work to free a pet dog that was stuck. The loving owner shares her story and what she learned with others.
Samantha (fictitious name) began winding down from Labor Day and came into her backyard to find her dog Curry, a five year-old golden retriever, sadly with her head securely stuck in a pipe at the bottom of a barbecue smoker.
"The top was covered with a metal lid, the door was latched, and the whole thing was covered with a BBQ cover. How she ever got herself into that situation is baffling." - SamanthaCurry, with her keen nose, sniffed her way to the barbecue and inside the large pipe on the bottom, getting her head stuck inside and her body outside the drum. The homeowner, unable to free their beloved pet, called upon their veterinarian and the Los Angeles Fire Department for help.
The barbecue oven, is somewhat elaborate and proved to create a rather extensive challenge for firefighters to remove her. Here's why...
It is large, heavy and dense, 35" high with a 13" opening in the top, with a 5" thick ceramic interior and a 1/4" thick stainless steel exterior. At the bottom is a 5" pipe that draws air in allowing the user to smoke meat over a long period of time.
Firefighters from Station 71 quickly arrived and rapidly worked to remove the frantic dog. Shortly thereafter, firefighters from Station 88 assisted, including Urban Search & Rescue Specialists. While monitoring their radios for any emergency 9-1-1 calls in the area, they worked as a team, utilizing various tools from a shop-vac, pneumatic air chisel, to specialized hydraulic cutters and spreaders, for 1 1/2 hours until the conscious but fading Curry was freed.
Once out, he was quickly secured and transported by private auto with the veterinarian to their hospital for further evaluation. She seemed to have promising vital signs.
Today we received a very considerate email, however it saddened our day. Curry, described as a "smart, funny, beautiful and joyous dog"... who "quickly won our hearts", passed away at the veterinarian hospital, despite their outstanding efforts.
Even though there was a tragic ending to this incident, Samantha took the time to write these words which she agreed to share.
"The only reason Curry had a fighting chance to improve at the hospital, was because of the quick response, capability, determination, leadership, teamwork and kindness shown by the numerous firefighters who came to rescue her. I saw how hard they worked for about 1 1/2 hours with a nearly impossible situation, and how they were able to free her. When they needed more help they didn't hesitate to call for more help. They gave her water, oxygen, tried to get her head back through the pipe, and when they realized it wasn't possible, they cut through 1/4" stainless steel and cut away the 3" thick wall of clay, cut through the 1/4" thick stainless metal pipe, used the jaws of life to pry apart the metal, all the while vacuuming up the clay dust created in the oven so that she could breathe. There was the firefighter who kept her calm through the whole ordeal. I can't tell you how impressed I was with the attention every one of the firefighters gave to our dog and how careful they were with her. Our family will forever be thankful for all that the brave firefighters did to help Curry, and that they persevered so that she didn't die in that situation in front of our young teenage sons."Samantha went on to share this humble teachable lesson that we felt would be of benefit...
"There are several things I have learned from this that I hope might help other pet owners. The first is to carefully go over your BBQ area where there has been cooking even from a month prior as I believe was in our case, that might be of interest to a pet, and see if there is any danger to a pet. Even if you can't imagine your dog putting her head through a small hole or pipe, if there is the smell of food involved, she may just be tempted enough to do it. Or, she could run into the same problem chasing a lizard or small animal. A fixed metal mesh in our case covering the pipe would have been good. The little metal door covering the vent wasn't enough; Curry figured out how to unlatch it."
"The other thing I learned is that heat stroke is a huge risk to a dog and has irreversible problems associated with it. Since they can't sweat as humans do, and they have all that fur, they regulate their heat by panting. In our case, even though it was late afternoon and Curry was in the shade, lying on cool bricks, and the surrounding air wasn't hot, Curry still had problems cooling herself which I hadn't appreciated. Breathing was difficult for her... and the shock of what was going on was likely raising her temperature... I plan to explore ways I could have helped her to keep her temperature down so that I may help if I ever encounter another similar situation. I have read that lukewarm but not cold water... and also a fan could help... I welcome any thoughts or suggestion as I know I can always learn more."Your Los Angeles Firefighters encourage that while surveying your home for National Preparedness Month take simple steps to ensure it is Pet Safe from other unforseen incidents.
Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department