A dog succumbed to its injuries Wednesday, Feb. 27, after the Washington Fire Department performed a dramatic dog rescue along the railroad tracks behind Melinda Lane in Washington.
Lola, 13, a Samoyed, stumbled between 30-40 feet down a steep embankment after being left out in her backyard Tuesday.
Tina Dillon, Lola’s owner, searched for her until 10 p.m. that night.
Searching efforts for Lola continued Wednesday and concluded when Dillon spotted a tuft of white fur quite a ways down the bluff. Dillon called for Lola and the dog turned her head.
With Dillon’s husband being a volunteer firefighter, but also being out of town, Dillon knew who to call.
“In came the wonderful rescue squad,” she said. “I cannot thank them enough.”
Dillon said she probably could have made it down the cliff to Lola, but doubted she would have made it back up with the dog in tow.
“It wasn’t an easy spot to get to,” she said. “I can’t believe she survived it. All night, 3 feet from the train tracks, had to be terrifying.”
The rescue effort took a little more than an hour to accomplish. Eventually rescuers were spotted walking up the cliff with Lola on a “Stokes basket,” similar to a stretcher.
“I’m very thankful we live in a community where all it took was a call,” Dillon said.
Additionally, Dillon said she thought Lola was still in shock once reconnected with her mom, but seemed happy to be off of the bluff.
It was determined at the scene Lola either had a dislocated hip or leg. She was immediately taken to the vet for X-rays.
Once the results came back it was announced that Lola had suffered a broken hip. With the combination of the hip and Lola’s age, the vet decided Lola would need to be put down.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Nick Risch, who was the command at the scene, fire crews accessed the woods where Lola was located through the east end of the riverfront trail.
The department utilized a pickup and small UTV used for brushfires.
“We had to cross over the railroad tracks to where the dog was found,” Risch said. “We had to fight through some brush but the dog was not stuck in the mud or anything.”
Lola was placed in a Stokes basket and carried to the pickup truck, and then taken to Dillon.
A firefighter was posted at the Dillon home where she was waiting for Lola.
Risch noted that rescuing an animal the size of a dog is very similar to how a fire crew would approach saving a human in the same situation.
“We had direct communication with the owner, which helps with background information,” Risch noted. “We also were in contact with the vet if we needed to be but the dog was very mellow.
“It was nice to be able to return the animal to the owner,” he added. “We are all attached to our pets.”
In the case of a larger animal, other precautions would be taken and a large animal rescue team would be contacted to assist.
During the rescue the fire department contacted Union Pacific Railroad to alert them that a rescue was occurring in the vicinity of the tracks.
“We also had a unit staged at the wastewater treatment plant to radio down if any trains were coming for our safety,” Risch said.
He said that the fire department and railroad company work closely together during emergency near, on or when firefighters cross the tracks.
“We let them know we are going to cross and they send a notification to engineers,” Risch added. “In this case they didn’t have to close the tracks.”
Oftentimes trains are slowed or stopped depending on the situation.
“Everybody plays together and we keep everyone safe,” Risch said. “We don’t want to startle engineers when they see firemen.”