Copter airlifts stranded dog

Shepherd-husky cross spotted near Ruck-A-Chucky rapids
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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No one knew its name or where it was from or even how it got there. But a stranded dog alone and isolated between a raging stretch of the American River and a steep cliff mobilized a team of emergency workers for a daring rescue effort Friday. The canine has now been reunited with its owners after a harrowing two days on an isolated shoreline. The rescue started in earnest Friday when an El Dorado County animal control officer was flown onto the rock-strewn Middle Fork American River shoreline by a California Highway Patrol helicopter. The officer was able to get to the dog and put a leash on it to lead it to a nearby helicopter pickup point near the river’s edge. Superintendent Mike Lynch, of the Auburn State Recreation Area, said the plight of the white, German shepherd-husky cross had first been reported on Thursday. The dog was spotted stranded in a remote area of the canyon, near Ruck-A-Chucky rapids. The rapids are about four miles north of the El Dorado County community of Greenwood. A park ranger responding to the call found the canine stranded across the river on a steep bank, Lynch said. The river separates El Dorado and Placer counties and the side the dog was found on is the El Dorado County animal control division’s jurisdiction. The steep canyon has been the scene of horse and human airlifts by helicopter several times in the past. Last week, a woman was assisted to shoreline at the American River confluence after getting trapped on an island. Initially, rescue efforts Thursday involved trying to coax the dog across the river from the Placer County side. But after several hours, the attempt was suspended because of the lack of light, Lynch said. Friday morning, state parks personnel and El Dorado County animal control officers again were unsuccessful in getting the dog to either cross the river or move farther downstream. With cloud cover lifting in the afternoon, a Highway Patrol copter with an animal control officer was able to fly in upstream to get near the dog. The officer worked his way downstream along the shoreline to get to the dog and then guided the canine back with a leash to the waiting copter at the pickup point. The female dog had a collar and El Dorado animal control was able to find the dog’s owner because it was wearing a rabies tag. Margaret Williams, public information officer for El Dorado County Health Services Department, said the dog had a few bruises when a veterinarian at the Placerville shelter examined it after its rescue. “He was very friendly and happy to get something to eat,” Williams said. Owner and pet were reunited Saturday afternoon. The dog’s name is “Dog.” It was not known Monday how the dog got to the remote area of the river, several miles from any road or residence, Lynch said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at