Rescuers rescued a dog that was separated from its owner for four months after a cross-country skier spotted the dog in deep snow in December.
Russ, a pit bull terrier mix, ran away from his owner’s car last August in the Lake Tahoe area after being scared, according to a Facebook post from Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends, the organization. based in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., who helped rescue the dog last month.
But Russ’s owner was quickly forced to evacuate the area due to the Caldor Fire, which raged over more than 220,000 acres last year. Although he searched for the dog and reported its disappearance to area animal service officials, “Russ was assumed to have been lost for good,” Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends told Facebook.
Wendy Jones, animal search and rescue specialist and founder and executive director of the organization, told USA TODAY that the dog’s owner is a traveling nurse and after his evacuation he “had to take a work elsewhere “and could not return. in the Tahoe area.
But last month a skier spotted Russ west of South Lake Tahoe. He was “unable to move” and growled, according to Tahoe PAWS and TLC’s Facebook post 4 Furry Friends.
Jones said she was contacted about the dog and “immediately took action to send a team there as quickly as possible,” coordinating with two volunteers over the phone. The area had recently received five feet of snow.
“The dog was tracked up the mountain and finally located under a tree that was not moving. The volunteers were elated when he opened his eyes and looked up, ”Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends shared on Facebook. “They were able to place him on the sled – above a volunteer to keep him warm and calm.”
“As it was dark, the descent from the mountain was slow and methodical,” the post added.
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Animal services officers took Russ to a vet after the rescue. Although his microchip was not registered, authorities were still able to locate its owner in Riverside County, California.
“We visited Russ every day while he was in animal service in Lake Tahoe to give him extra love and support because he was scared and confused, but he was definitely waiting for his owner. It was very obvious he was waiting for his owner to pick him up, ”Jones told USA TODAY.
The owner “was extremely ecstatic because he thought the dog was gone forever,” she added. “He was just devastated and heartbroken that he had to leave his dog behind due to the mandatory evacuations.”
Jones called Russ a “very strong and intelligent dog.”
“Most dogs are. We just don’t give them enough credit, and they are survivalists, ”she said. ” They are strong. They are smart. They go into survival mode and know what to do.
Contribution: Associated Press