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Should L.A. firefighters have risked their lives to save a dog? Tell us what you think [Updated]

Talkbackla The rescue of a dog by an army of firefighters and swift-rescue personnel has been the talk of Los Angeles. It was broadcast live on local TV and has sparked much debate.

Should fire personnel have risked their lives to save the dog?

LAFD Capt. Steve Ruda said the firefighter, Joe St. Georges, who rescued the dog has significant bite injuries to his right hand and forearm, and is being treated in the emergency room at L.A. County-USC Medical Center.

“They are waiting for a hand specialist to come in because of the significance of the injuries,” Ruda said. The dog will be tested for rabies, and is being cared for at the county's Animal Care shelter in Downey, he said.

[Updated at 6 p.m.: St. Georges, wearing a bandage on his hand, was released from the hospital and spoke to the media.

"The dog was trying to get out of the channel, and that was not going to happen," he said, explaining why officials decided to act.

He said the dog "started snapping at me" when he tried to put a capture restraint on the canine. He said he got one bite to the thumb.

St. Georges was asked why he decided to risk his life. He said officials worried that someone without training would attempt to rescue the dog because the scene was being broadcast on TV.]

Share your views below.

--Seema Mehta and Shelby Grad

 
Comments () | Archives (426)

It was definitely the right thing to do! Yes, it was "just a dog" in danger, but that dog is a living and breathing creature. How could anyone stand by and watch a living breathing creature die when something could be done to save it. On a minor side note, that rescue of the dog was a great training exercise for all the personnel involved. Three cheers for all the rescuers that had me glued to my computer screen until the dog was safely in the back of the ambulance.

This rescue worker/firefighter has a heart of gold...he sacrificed himself so that a life could be saved. It's heartbreaking to see the dog attempt to get out of the canal and they knew he would never be able to do it on his own...they did what they could...that's what more people need to do in this world...do what you can when you see someone in need (animal or human)

I agree with Karen L. & Dogs Best Friend Dogs have been saving our sorry hides for along time...but the firefighter was exceptionally courageous and it was too bad he was so badly bitten......but the dog was frightened and stressed and dogs do that

The concern for saving life is wired into the DNA of Firefighters and other first responders. It is what we do. If this was not a fact, there is no way that you can pay someone enough to place themselves into harm's way, the motivation must be an interior one. For all those of you who denigrate the LAFD for rescuing a mere dog, put yourself into the LA river and marvel at the courage of anyone who would place themselves into the maelstrom for ANY life, animal OR human. God bless all firefighters and first responders.
Hosemonkey
CLFD(Ret.)

As I watched the dog being rescues from the LA River yesterday, all I could think of was that the dog not drown, or get swept out of the fire fighter's hands. It never once occurred to me to think of how much it cost or how their time could have been better spent. If you know anything about fire fighters, THIS IS WHAT THEY DO. They save people, animals and things to the very best of their ability. Which is more than what I see for many people.

As for animals not having souls.... That dog has more soul than many. I'd rather not go to your mythical Heaven if there's none of my pets there. I've had it with people like that here, why would I want to spend eternity with them?

Yes, because like the LAFD said it prevented a civilian going in and rescuing the dog. And its good practice for swift water rescue. And most of us in society love our dogs and would not want to watch an innocent animal suffer.

The dog should be rescued more than any one , they are really the only true innocents of the world , humans decided to be care givers to dogs when they domesticated them.Plus on the money issue of the rescue look at all the money and aid LA gives to illegals , I'm pretty sure the dog was born in america...

I accept the explanation of the personnel involved that by rescuing the dog themselves they avoided a larger catastrophe if a member of the public had tried to perform the rescue. Besides, it was a great opportunity for young people to see what rescuers do, and perhaps inspire some to go into the field.

Definitely a good thing.

Whether rescuing human or animal victim, the firefighters have to face high risk situations. Probably after every encounter they learn and hone their skills which is why these LAFD rescuers are the very best and bravest. Joe St. Georges, wish you a fast recovery! And "Vernon" the dog you deserve a good and safe home. We humans domesticated these animals and should take responsibility for their well-being.

HANDS DOWN! IT WAS THE RIGHT THING & ONLY THING TO DO! ANYONE ELSE THINKING OTHERWISE, WAKE UP! WHERE IS YOUR COMPASSION. LIFE IS LIFE, WHETHER IT BE A HUMAN OR AN ANIMAL!

IF THE RESCUE TEAM DIDN'T THINK THEY COULD RESCUE THE DOG, THEN THEY WOULD HAVE NOT ATTEMPTED IT, EVEN KNOWING THE RISK THEY ARE TAKING, THAT INCLUDES POSSIBLE DOGGIE BITES. FOR THE PERSON THAT COMMENTED THAT IT WAS BASICALLY JUST A TRAINING EXERCISE, THAT IS A SILLY STATEMENT. THE RESCUE TEAM HAS ALREADY DONE MANY TRAINING EXERCISES AND APPARENTLY FELT CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO MAKE THE RESCUE ATTEMPT.

THAT DOG OBVIOUSLY WAS SOMEONES PET, AS THEY COULD SEE THE DOG WAS WEARING A COLLAR. ANIMALS TEND TO GET SCARED WHEN THERE IS THUNDER, LIGHTENING, EARTHQUAKE & RUN SCARED. DOGS, CATS, OTHER ANIMALS ARE OUR PETS, AS THEY ARE NOT JUST PART OF ONE'S FAMILY. THEY ARE FAMILY! I BET FOR THOSE COMMENTING THAT THE DOG SHOULD HAVE NOT BEEN RESCUED, THAT IF IT WAS YOUR DOG IN THAT SITUATION, I BET YOU WOULD THINK OTHERWISE.

TALK ABOUT THE TAXES, SO MUCH MORE TAX DOLLARS ARE BEING WASTED EVERY DAY. TO NAME ONE FOR AN EXAMPLE: THE OJ SIMPSON TRIAL. THERE WAS ENOUGH EVIDENCE OF OJ'S GUILT, AND YET THE TRIAL CONTINUED, CAUSING SO MANY OF OUR TAX DOLLARS NEEDLESSLY. THE MAN IS WHERE HE BELONGS TODAY, BEHIND BARS FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

BRAVO FOR THE RESCUERS! I APPRECIATE THAT THERE ARE STILL MANY KIND, GENTLE SOULS WITH GOOD QUALITY HUMAN INSTINCTS TO DO THE RIGHT THING AS LONG AS THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE AND CAPABLE TO HELP SAVE A LIFE, INCLUDING, BOW-WOW!

Yes, absolutely the right thing to do! Thank you LA Firefighters and Joe St. Georges.

No, firefighters should not have risked their lives to save a dog. If this dog does end up having rabies and the injured firefighter is permanently disabled? We'll end up spending much more money than we already have. When people aren't receiving all the services they need, here and abroad, it is in poor judgement to save a dog we know nothing about. Taxpayers must feel the cost of this expensive rescue, for a dog that may have to be put down in the end, and an injured firefighter that might have to go on disability or retire.

In a word..NO...but everyone here is so animal obsessed, the fire department would have taken a beating if they didn't

Oh, thank goodness! I thought all of the know-it-all armchair pundits only lived in Missouri. After reading the comments here, I now know it's a national phenomena.

Mr. St. Georges did not unilaterally. I imagine that the fire department discussed the pup and decided that if they did not try to rescue the dog, someone else would, because few people who really care about animals could watch that poor dog and not want to do something.

It was a wise decision, as well as a humanitarian one. As for the costs, consider it a training exercise if the rescue of the dog is not sufficient.

Mr. St. Georges was bit, but by a frightened dog, as he himself has stated. The dog will not be destroyed. He will be monitored for rabies, but if no symptoms show, will be released to a good home. From the photos after the fact, he's a sweet dog and I for one am glad he didn't die in cold, and fear. Though I realize that from the comments here, there are some in LA who could care less. Pity, but then, we have the same mean spirited folk in Missouri, too.

Thank you Mr. St. Georges and your team for providing a bright moment in an otherwise sad, sad week of news.

Yes! It is the duty of every emergency worker to save lives whenever they can, be it people or animals. Being a fire fighter myself, I would be deeply ashamed if we did not !

They saved the dog to prevent some inexperienced person from trying it and losing a human life, the intent behind the rescue WAS for humans. But whatever the reason, I'm glad the doggie was saved.

Well done Joe St Georges!

no

What a great story....Law Enforcement and Firefighters are the best...thank you for all you do.....

@"Common_sense": You are so worried about who is "footing the bill?" One dog is the least of your worries (that is if you are a taxpayer). Im glad to finally see my money doing something good. The only bill we are "footing" in CA is for the millions having babies on welfare for a living, using your tax dollars for fake nails, tans, and hair-not to mention cigarettes, weed, and Escalades. I would prefer to save a dog over someone like that any day. At least you can neuter them cheap, and they don't live as long as the people that soak the system (who seemingly never die).

Had the LAFD failed to act, they would have been castigated from all points of the world for being "cruel & uncaring".
I personally would have understood, had they declined to act...........but I'm damned glad that they did.
My hat is off to Joe St. Georges, LAFD and Rick Prancevic who is also a LAFD member. Great job guys!

So if the firefighter never works again because of his injuries (he does work with his hands) and he's not there to save you, will you still think it was worth it? Will you be glad to support him for the rest of his life?

What if he had died in the effort, I wonder if his family would have that it was worth it.

Kudos all around. Of course it was worth it - whether or not the TV cameras were on. Everyone is trained, on duty and exercising their skills. I'm sure injuries happen during training all the time. If we can't show our compassion for helpless animals, how are we going to find compassion for our less adorable fellow humans.

PS Sounds like everyone who agreed with the rescue needs to make a donation to LA SPCA at http://www.spcala.com/

Firemen involved in this rescue got a chance to practice skills that may in the future not only save a dog but a human victim in the same situation. Every time fire and rescue are called upon to rescue they get a chance to improve their protocols and process.

D Hamilton, You are exactly right! Great comment. My sentiments exactly.

I watched Fox on the edge of my seat hoping for a good outcome in this rescue, as was the case. And in the last 24 hours I've read hundreds of comments about should/shouldn't we have saved the dog. I think what is missed except for a few, is that if they (LAFD who are trained for this) had not gone after the dog someone (not trained) would have/could have died or been seiously injured. The agencies involved are there to protect the public. So I applaud the LAFD for doing their job, and in this case a dog just happened to be saved.

 
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