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A rescue to remember: DMFD provides aid for injured pet turtle

5/10/17

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

NORTH VALLEY – Firefighters save lives every day – including pets’ lives. And not just cats and dogs; Dreyfus the turtle wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the help of Daisy Mountain Fire Department firefighters, according to his owner.

“I know he wouldn’t have made it without it,” Gina Hosley, Dreyfus’ owner said of the aid DMFD provided to her turtle. “He was too far gone.”

On the evening of April 23, Dreyfus was outside playing in an above-ground pool, part of the set-up Hosley has for her turtles. Somehow, Dreyfus dislodged the heavy rocks that covered the pool filter, getting his head caught in the intake tube to the filter.

“It sucked his head in there,” Hosley described. “I had gone out there to feed him and that’s when I saw him. I was horrified.”

Hosley immediately turned the pump off and disconnected it. Dreyfus’ head was caught in a section of PVC pipe connected to the filter tubing, and dislodging the turtle safely would prove difficult.

Hosley and her boyfriend tried to free Dreyfus but couldn’t, and the little turtle showed signs of distress, with blood coming from his nose and mouth. Desperate to save Dreyfus, Hosley called Paul Schickel from DMFD, whom she knew from community preparedness training classes he teaches.

“Paul, he knows I love my animals,” Hosley said, adding that she asked Schickel what to use to cut the pipe to save Dreyfus, and he told her to send him a picture and her address so he could send help. The family lives nearby Station 145 in Desert Hills, and the crew was there within minutes.

“Paul called us to go see if we could just help her out. We went over there and assisted her,” said Firefighter Eugene Lindsay.

Working together, the group was able to free Dreyfus from the tubing, but his condition was deteriorating.

“He wasn’t looking too good when we were working on him,” Lindsay said. “When we got done, I suggested, ‘Why don’t we get some oxygen?’ We used a child’s airway mask. It worked out pretty well.”

Hosley said Dreyfus not only didn’t fight the mask, he understood that it was helping him to breathe.

“He kept moving further and further into the mask,” she described.

Hosley says that without Dreyfus receiving oxygen, he wouldn’t have survived, and she’s very grateful to the crew who helped save him. She said he’s recovered completely from his mishap now.

“He’s in the pond, he’s eating, he’s basking with the other turtles,” Hosley said.

Dreyfus is likely the first turtle DMFD crews have saved, but he’s definitely not the only pet.

Lindsay noted that his crew has responded to other calls of injured animals, including helping transport a dog that was injured in a dogfight to a veterinarian. They’ve also responded on calls of bee attacks in which pets were injured.

“We’ll try to get them to the veterinarian,” Lindsay said. “We just try to get there and help out as much as we can.”

Paul Schickel, DMFD Community Services Program Coordinator, noted that while it isn’t a frequent occurrence, DMFD provides animal rescue when needed.

“The Fire Department’s priority is life safety, followed by property conservation,” Schickel said. “We understand that pets are a part of people’s family, and we do our best to provide care for animals. Each of our trucks carry a FIDO Bag which was provided by the Fetch Foundation to support emergency care.”

“If a pet or livestock is trapped, don’t hesitate to call 911,” Schickel said. “Whether it’s a big or small emergency, people shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 when they need fire to respond, there isn’t an alternative number to call. We’ll do everything we can to free the animal, but we’re unable to provide much in the way of treatment. Owners need to seek care from a veterinarian.”

For animal emergencies, DMFD is limited in what they can do to help, and they recommend pet owners keep location and contact info for emergency veterinarians handy.

“The best way to help an animal in distress, if at all possible, is it to contact your regular veterinarian,” Schickel said. “If the situation involves wildlife, consult the Arizona Game and Fish Injured, Sick or Orphaned Wildlife webpage for guidance.”

“On a few occasions, Daisy Mountain Fire has responded to motor vehicle accidents where we transported the occupants to the hospital, but a pet who was also in the car, was uninjured, and without anyone to care for it. Thanks to Anthem Pets who donated kennels and supplies to our fire stations, we’re able to bring those pets back to the fire station, and care for them until someone could pick them up,” Schickel said.

For Dreyfus, DMFD’s care came at just the right time, and Hosley says the crew was “all for Dreyfus.”

“They were rooting for Dreyfus, helping get him out, and getting him oxygen," Hosley said. " The guys were so great!”