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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)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated ~Gandhi

Yes. Save the dog. Do that instead of waiting for a mudslide to happen to go save the people who wouldn't leave when it was safe. The dog did not willingly stay in harms way!

Not no, HELL NO!

Yes--we are all lifted up by this courageous act. What more, the LA River was poorly designed--no one, no person, no creature, can get out if they fall in. The Fire Department should absolutely devote resources to rescue anyone or anything that is unfortunate enough to fall in.

Absolutely not. Was the firefighter a dog lover? Then maybe he thinks the rescue was worth the bites. Otherwise no. The people of LA County do not want to see their tax dollars paying the salary of firefighters to rescue a dog who, for all intents and puroposes, should not have been loose in the first place. Responsible pet owners secure their animals at all times, and especially in the face of an impending evacuation or weather which could upset and disturb even the most docile animal.

I really hope the firefighter is not seriously injured. He and everyone else did a heroic thing.

I love dogs. Adore them. I think many people do. Thats why they probably just couldnt sit there and watch one suffer like that.

I was really upset the television cameras chose to cover this live. It really looked like the dog was suffering and about to drown. It was very upsetting to show something like that on live TV during the day.

I agree with most of the people on here. That it was definilty the right thing to do. How could one stand by and do nothing? I think it is a shame that the firefighter got hurt in the process. Yes, more thought should have been put into the rescue itself. Some sort protective barrier to prevent the dog's teeth from piercing the rescuers clothes. Aside from that it warms my heart that they put all that effort to save him.

Yes! Thank you awesome LAFD and the news who covered it. It's one of the nicest local stories I've seen amidst all this weather stuff. I saw a follow up report on the dog at the vet rescue, they gave it a name, Vernon. He (I think it's a he) is very sweet and tame, a very nice dog and beautiful too! Hopefully he has an owner, but there have been many calls for adoption. Anyone who says he shouldn't have been rescued is inhumane. My heart does goes out to the injured firefighter, I hope he heals soon. As far as the money issue goes, get over it. Money is blown on stupid stuff all the time, at least this one saved a life.

Yes, and this is what makes the USA different than a place like India or China. Among many other things.

For dogs YES! But cats NO!

It is part of our humanity to be stewards of the land and its precious animals. Animals soften the rough edges of life and all they want in return is our love. The selfless compassion of Joe St. Georges and his fellow LA firefighters is an inspiration to those of us who love and protect animals. Thanks to you all for the heroism that is a part of every work-day. We are forever grateful. Sppedy recovery, Joe!!

What kind of stupid question in "should the fireman have saved the dog..?
Have you forgotten what country this is..?
Compassion, merci, help, support, are just of the few of the words I could list.
We live in a country that was blessed and we should not forget that even a dog is a wonderful form of life in our planet.
Thank God for the Firemen and all those who still help others.

Yes, save the dog, then take him to the pound to be put to sleep.

How could anyone possibly see this hopeless dog and NOT try anything to save it? I will truly be disgusted by the human race when someone can just sit there and watch an animal drown to death. This firefighter did the RIGHT thing, which is something more people need to do...I cannot wait to find a way to personally thank him for showing the world that people need to be more compassionate for our animals.

That dog was probably SCARED OUT OF HIS MIND so of course he lashed out and bit, but honestly the firefighters probably knew this would happen (obviously) and they still were willing to save it. Thank you SO much for your help in animal rights....we appreciate your services more than you will ever know.




Really this is pathetic.. I believe it used to be called "Back-seat
driving." Leave people alone to live their own lives and make
their own decisions without constant criticism from somebody.

The media is whats wrecking the USA. Not the Repubs or Dems
Everybody really needs to take care of their own business, respect
others decisions and Lives. Why is everything in this country
suddenly free game for a survey or vote?
Everybody Enjoy your Weekend!

This public employee department had to...
the image of that other public employee fireman
smackin and punchin a small dog to death will forever
remain a failure/loser image on decision makin public
employee fireman...they had to save the dog and the media
of course was told to cover it for image sakes...at least...
after a public employee fireman caused the death of someones
pet dog...you bet...they had to save this one.

The question should be: should the swiftwater rescue team have passed up this great opportunity to train? Rescuing a dog is real-conditions preparation for rescuing people.

So, it looked kinda like a german shepard... Can we train him for police work or something? Then he can pay his own rescue bill! Seriously though, there are lots of working dogs out there who save human lives all the time; let's just return the favor.

Sure why not? Dogs are often used to rescue humans, why not have a human help rescue a dogs life. Nothing wrong with that. As for the cost, OK so the taxpayers are footing the bill. That's OK we foot the bill for a lot of other things that are a lot worse. Plus we need a feel good story like this.

Thank you to Joe St. Georges for doing what he did. You are our hero!

This is the United States of America.....we save dogs, puppies and cats,
and we love our fire-fighters for it..! Compassion for the helpless and weak
is true virtue...bless St. Georges and all the crew. We love you!

The firefighters did a great job and are heroes. But this should NOT have been preformed. If one of the firefighters drowned then what would we all be saying? Why put a brave firefighter in such harms way for a dog? Yes we all love dogs but that is not enough of a reason for this level of danger.

Oh, why not? L.A. City and County officialdom spends millions (billions?) to accomplish absolutely nothing (cause affirmative harm?) every year, so why not burn a few grand to save a dog?

NO!! NO!! NO!! I love dogs as much as the next guy, but risking someone's life over a dog is preposterous. I would feel the same way if it were my dog.

I'm sure someone loves Fido enough to want him saved, and was happy it was rescued. But where does it stop? If my pet Chinchilla goes in the drink, should I call search and rescue and have them risk their lives? I love my Chinchilla.... It's a life... etc etc.

Cmon people . Get a grip.

Firefighters risk their lives to save animals all the time, be it someone's pet in a burning house, a horse trapped in a river, etc. I'm assuming the rescuer had a choice, and chose to go forward knowing the risk both from the circumstances and from the animal. A speedy recovery to him...he's a hero in my book!

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