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How do you rescue an imperiled German shepherd? Speak German, of course

January 28, 2009 |  5:50 pm

K9 A Riverside animal control officer used her knowledge of the German language -- and German shepherds -- to rescue a loose dog who was running in traffic near UC Riverside. 

The Riverside Department of Animal Services received a call yesterday evening from UC Riverside's campus police department, notifying them that a German shepherd had been spotted running loose near the university's track stadium.  When Tiffany Fuller of Riverside animal control arrived, she noticed that the dog was wearing a pinch collar often used in training. 

Once she and police officers got the dog into a nearby park, she went into action -- and had the bright idea to try giving the dog German commands.  Our colleague Ruben Vives at the L.A. Now blog explains:

Fuller, a former trainer of search dogs, had learned German dog commands and is the owner of a 9-year-old German shepherd, a retired tracking dog...

"Platz!" (Down!) Fuller said.  "Bleib!" (Stay!) "Bleib" is short for bleibsitzen (Stay! Keep sitting!")

Because of her background with German shepherds, Fuller was able to control the dog. She said that when the dog was calm, she approached the animal and placed a leash around its neck. She then placed the dog in her truck.

"He looked confused," Fuller said in a phone interview today. "He was trying to find his way back home. ... We're hoping we can reunite him with his owner."

The dog is now being held at the Riverside animal shelter (5950 Wilderness Ave., (951) 358-PETS).  The owner would know some of the dog's unique characteristics, according to Animal Services Capt. Tammie Belmonte, and will be required to provide some specifics in order to prove ownership. "This is obviously a very smart and sweet dog, and we want to make sure it's going back to his proper home," Belmonte said. 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Riverside Animal Control Officer Tiffany Fuller and the German shepherd. Credit: Riverside Department of Animal Services

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