The Caldor wildfires separated one California owner from his pit bull dog for months, but the two reunited thanks to some help.
The unnamed owner visited Lake Tahoe last summer for a job interview, but Russ got scared and ran away during his time in the area.
After some help from a nonprofit organization and a microchip, the Hill website reported that both owner and dog reunited in a heartwarming moment.
Missing Dog Likely Saw Fire And Ice
The unnamed owner reported Russ to animal services and searched for the dog before being evacuated. The devastating fire blew up with nearly 222,000 acres of scorched land. More than 1,000 structures burned up over several months.
According to Tahoe PAWS, many “assumed” the pit bull mix dog was “lost for good.”
But on Dec. 16, Tahoe PAWS Executive Director Wendy Jones got word about a trapped dog west of South Lake Tahoe.
Fox 2 reported that a backcountry skier near Twin Peaks came upon a dog on Dec. 16 that appeared to be in distress. The dog was in survival mode.
In a Facebook post, TLC 4 Furry Friends & Tahoe PAWS said the dog “was unable to move” and “growling at individuals who observed it.”
The snow-trapped dog could not move amid the extreme snow conditions. Officials noted that the area took in more than 17 feet of snow during December after a year of wild temperatures and drought.
Dog Rescue Involved A Sled
When local animal services couldn’t reach the area due to snow and hazardous terrain, Jones and TLC 4 Furry Friends put together a rescue mission. TLC 4 Furry Friends is an animal search-and-rescue nonprofit in the area that works with Jones.
“The dog was tracked up the mountain and finally located under a tree, not moving. The volunteers were elated when he opened his eyes and lifted his head. They were able to place him on the sled – on top of a volunteer, so he was kept warm and calm,” the post said.
Rescue workers said the operation took several hours as they traveled at night. Fox 2 reported the group took a “slow and methodical” ride down the mountain.
Jones told the TV station that dog rescuers said Russ was in pretty good shape after the rescue. The woman said a surveillance camera caught Russ in a standoff with a coyote at one point.
After a veterinarian checkup and a microchip check, officials located the owner in Riverside County, almost 8 hours away. And after contact, the reunion took ten more days.
Fox 2 said snowstorms made travel to the Sierra tough. Animal services and volunteers cared for Russ until his owner could come.
The unnamed owner was “ecstatic” to find out the animal was alive and doing well.