When the search team spotted the lost dog stranded on a washed-up pile of unstable sticks and branches on a tumultuous river, the poor animal looked scared and confused. But with the waters churning all around, a rescue attempt seemed far too dangerous. That was, until someone launched a daring plan.
In April 2017, a search expedition was on the hunt for a missing California man. And, fearing the worst and that their man could have been drowned, they focused their attention on the Salinas River near Greenfield, CA.
The river is the longest on the main coast of the state, and its waters are often extremely fast-flowing. What’s more, thanks to its strong currents, the waterway can be treacherous and is easily capable of claiming someone’s life.
So it was vital that the search squad investigated the area quickly and thoroughly. When they did, moreover, they discovered a poor unfortunate in desperate need of their help – but it wasn’t the missing man.
It was a stranded pit bull. The dog was perched unsafely on a collection of driftwood amid the swelling river and could have been stuck there for days. However, a rescue seemed far from straightforward or safe.
The creature was too far away from the bank for one of the party to simply lean over and grab. And the river was deemed much too dangerous for someone to step out to retrieve the dog from the pile. After all, if they attempted this second option, there was a chance that both the would-be rescuer and the hapless hound would fall in or be washed downriver.
So the search team decided to consult an expert and called local woman Jessica Barraza. “I’m known in the community as an animal rescuer,” she explained to The Dodo. “A friend heard of the dog’s situation and got in touch with me immediately.”
However, Barraza was unable to get to the site until the following day, and overnight, the dog’s plight had grown even more critical. “When we got there the next morning, he looked friendly and eager to be out of that situation,” she said.
Now with no time to lose, Barraza and her team got to work on the rescue mission. Their first plan of action was to add more branches to the animal’s impromptu perch. Maybe, the thinking went, the additional height would enable the dog to simply climb out onto the riverbank by himself.
But after this didn’t work, one of the rescuers found a large branch to lower down to the dog. She thought he may have been able to utilize it as a ladder and ascend to safety. Unfortunately, though, the pit bull was simply too traumatized to move.
Once all of their attempts to coax the dog had failed, then, Barraza knew it was time to try something more drastic. Specifically, he decided to clamber down and join the animal on his precarious raft of floating debris. So, as carefully as she could, she made the first move.
Barraza was all too aware of how dangerous the situation was. One wrong move and she could twist an ankle or even upset the branches – and find herself and the frightened animal in the dangerous waters. She knew therefore that she had to tread carefully if she was to make it out unscathed.
Still, ultimately she got there. And once Barraza had reached the dog, she now had to get both of them safely onto dry land. So, she cautiously raised the animal up and handed him to a fellow rescuer. Then she climbed up after him.
Now that she had successfully rescued the pit bull, Barraza was faced with what to do next. First, she needed to know if someone had dumped him intentionally. And if they had, she would probably have to contact her local animal shelter.
One thing was for sure, though: somebody knew about this hound being missing. You see, the pit bull was wearing a leash, which meant that someone, somewhere had walked him recently. Barraza was also aware that the walker’s feelings towards the dog could have been good or bad.
Happily, as it turned out, though, Barraza discovered that the dog did indeed have a home. What’s more, he had a family who loved him very much, and they just couldn’t wait to have their pet back home and safe once more.
Barraza revealed that the dog’s loved ones had searched high and low for him – but that their efforts had come to no avail. “He had gotten loose, and his family had been looking everywhere for him, driving around and posting on lost-and-found pages,” she explained to The Dodo.
And while no one knew the story of how the dog had come to be stranded on a pile of driftwood in the Salinas River, luck certainly seemed to have been on his side. “How he ended up in the river is a mystery,” Barraza said. “But this dog definitely had angels watching over him.”
Thankfully, Barraza was able to oversee a happy reunion between the pit bull and his family – and it was one with a wagging tail and smiling faces all round. So, for the animal rescuer, her selfless act was completely worth it.
Who knows what might have happened if Barraza and her team hadn’t got to the dog in time? He could quite easily have slipped through the branches and drowned. But thanks to her bravery in going out on a limb, he got to see his owners once more. And for Barraza, the family and their lucky pit bull, that moment was absolutely priceless.