FEB. 5, 2015 UPDATE: No one claimed Lucky, so he has been adopted by Rachel Dably, who called 911 after seeing him struggling to stay afloat in the L.A. River.
As a thunderstorm passed over the San Fernando Valley this afternoon, an employee at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank saw a dog struggling to stay afloat in the rushing Los Angeles River.
She called 911, and by the time firefighters arrived minutes later, the small Shiba Inu had been swept two miles down the river. Firefighter John Terrusa was lowered on a cable from a helicopter, swam to the terrified dog and scooped him up in his arms.
The rescue wasn’t a done deal yet — as the helicopter flew the two toward an embankment, they started spinning in circles, nearly hitting some tree branches.
Once they were safely on the ground, the firefighters named the Shiba Inu, appropriately enough, “Lucky.”
“It was quite a team effort, quite a concert,” Terrusa told KNBC. “It is definitely a loved animal. It’s just one of those things where I’m sure the dog just got out of somebody’s yard and got in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”
Scot Sweet, who witnessed the rescue, told KABC-TV Lucky was “shaking, a little scared, but he was alive. A lot of people were cheering. It was something to see.”
Another witness, Carolynn West, told KCBS, “I think it was marvelous. It was just absolutely amazing. Everyone was astonished that they could pluck this little, shivering, tan dog out of this gigantic river.”
The 7-year-old Shiba Inu, who was wearing a collar and leash but no ID tag, was transported to the North Central Los Angeles animal shelter.
“He’s doing exceptionally well right now,” KNBC‘s Mekahlo Medina reported a couple hours later. “We saw him eat a short time ago. He had a bit of an appetite.”
Lucky, who is not microchipped, will be kept overnight for observation at a local animal hospital. The shelter is hoping to locate his owner. If no one claims him within seven days, he will be available for adoption.
“I’m sure if it has a home, it will go back. And, if it doesn’t, hundreds of people will want to adopt it,” West told KCBS.
The firefighter who plucked Lucky from the raging river was identified late Friday as John Terrusa. Let’s call him “Hero.”
Updated Jan. 31, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.
Photo via KNBC