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L.A. River dog's rescuer adjusts to sudden spotlight

February 4, 2010 | 10:36 am

Spikey, the dog whose dramatic rescue made headlines last month, was recently reunited with his owner. The dog's life has apparently returned to normal -- but what of his much-lauded rescuer, paramedic Joe St. Georges? Our colleague Carla Hall profiled St. George; here's an excerpt:

St Georges On computer screens in offices and TVs in airport terminals, people all over the country watched live on the stormy afternoon of Jan. 22 as [St. Georges] was lowered by cable from a helicopter to save the frantic animal from the fast-moving L.A. River in Vernon.

And they kept watching, transfixed, as dog and man were hoisted up, spinning horizontally over the gray water.

St. Georges, who got a badly bitten thumb for his efforts, became an instant celebrity, appearing on the "Today" show and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and accepting the accolades of the animal-loving world.

For saving the dog, now identified as Spikey from Maywood, the 50-year-old firefighter paramedic has been barraged with hundreds of cards from well-wishers and lauded on a Facebook page set up by his admirers.

"You are proof that there are angels walking among us!" gushes one of the 5,353 fans of the page (as of press time) established to "thank LA's dog-saving fire-fighter Joe St. Georges!"

"I'm humbled, I'm amazed," said St. Georges of all the attention. "I don't know what to make of it. It's what we do."


Photo: St. George (injured thumb and all) is interviewed after being honored by an animal welfare group Feb. 2. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

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