Dogs get out and roam the streets rather often. Whether they get out through user error or their own sheer determination, it’s always sad to see some skittish pup trotting along the road and know that someone is missing that dog.
It’s difficult to know when and how to approach stray dogs. Sometimes their faces melt into thanks as they rocket toward you, a friendly face in a scary world.
Other times, you’re just a part of the unfamiliar that terrifies them, and they don’t trust you. In those kinds of situations, it’s better to leave them alone rather than have them run in fear into an even more dangerous situation.
They can cause accidents, too, if they get loose on a roadway. No (healthy) person wants to hit a dog, and in attempting to avoid a runaway they may run into another vehicle, creating incredible damage to pocketbooks as well as people.
Stan Semenuk, a Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy from California, was faced with this sticky situation when a young bloodhound was loose and running through traffic.
Semenuk saw the pup clear one side of the freeway and keep plowing across, and he stopped to see if he could keep the pup from getting hurt.
“I immediately pulled over and tried to help the poor buddy out,” he said. “I started calling the little guy over to me. He was just scared out of his mind.”
Seeing the deputy as just another Scary Thing, the terrified pup lit across the last few lanes, and was struck by a vehicle.
If you’ve ever witnessed something like this, you know that pit-of-your-gut feeling. The sickening sensation paired with a sliver of hope that maybe, somehow, the dog will be OK.
Many times, they’re not. The bloodhound was dragged for a bit before the driver was able to stop.
Semenuk used his car as a buffer behind the vehicle that had hit the dog and tried to make the situation as safe as possible for other drivers, himself, and the dog, so he could assess the situation.
Being a K-9 handler, he was especially aware of the needs and behaviors of dogs, and knew he’d have to be careful with the frightened animal or risk injuring it or being injured himself.
When he got to the car and looked underneath it, he realized the dog was pinned. His foot was stuck under the wheel — which, as painful as it was, was probably a life-saver.
If the hound had been able to run back into traffic to get away from Semenuk, he probably would have, and there would be no guarantee that he’d survive another pelting.
Fortunately, a CHP officer who was off-duty saw the commotion and quickly jumped into action. He had a jack with him that the men used to lift the car.
“I was just talking to the little puppy, trying to calm him down because he was crying and whining and in a lot of pain,” said Semenuk. He had a leash looped around his waist that he used to secure the dog.
The deputy carefully carried the dog to the side of the road, trying to calm him down as they waited for animal control to arrive.
All the hubbub had caught the attention of the dog’s owner, who lived in a house that backed up to the freeway. Apparently, the dog — whose name was “Ruger” — dug a hole and got out of his yard.
The owner followed the animal control vehicle to the vet’s, and by all reports Ruger looks like he’ll be okay. Thanks to Deputy Semenuk and the unnamed CHP officer, this pup will be safe and sound at home in no time.
“That’s what we do. That’s our job,” Semenuk said, marveling over the response his actions have accrued. “Seeing a dog get hit like that, it’s not an easy thing. But I would have done that for any dog.”
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