Lincolnton couple Jeff and Andie Gavin recently put their family dog to sleep after the 16-year-old animal suffered significant injuries this month after becoming trapped in a tree on the South Fork River, where heavy rains increased water levels.
Lincolnton Fire Department responded Wednesday to an area of the waterway off Brookside Drive in Lincolnton to rescue the half Siberian Husky-half English Springer Spaniel mix.
Firefighters said the dog was stuck in a tree limb near the running water and were forced to use tree saws and rope rescue equipment to save Harry.
Lincoln County Animal Control also responded to the site.
According to Public Information Officer and Lincolnton Fire Engineer Joe Fletcher, crews successfully removed the elderly animal from the tree limb and lifted him to safety by way of a “stokes basket.”
Fletcher said the particular device is typically used to hoist a victim uphill or lower a person from an elevated location.
Following the rescue, firefighters handed Harry over to Animal Control officials, who said they used the dog’s tags to track down his owners.
Jeff Gavin said he was surprised to learn his dog, who went missing the night of July 6, had wandered so far from home, especially since he usually roamed close to the residence and suffered from arthritis in his back.
The couple searched the area for the animal on Sunday without luck.
After retrieving Harry from Animal Services, Jeff said he and Andie took the dog to Maiden Small Animal Hospital for treatment.
Unfortunately, due to Harry’s age and injuries he acquired in the incident, his owners put him to sleep a few days after they found him. Jeff said the injuries would have hampered his dog’s “wild, free” lifestyle.
The couple praised all the agencies that worked to rescue their dog from the local river, and ultimately, give them closure and “peace” on Harry’s whereabouts.
“We think God allowed Harry to be found,” Jeff said. “It’s wonderful what they (first-responders) did.”
With heavy rainfall the last few weeks, firefighters reminded area residents to keep a “watchful eye” on animals and children and to be continuously aware of high water levels.
Lincolnton Fire Department also warned drivers of potential dangers along flooded roadways, stating in a recent press release to “turn around, don’t drown.”