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Firefighters who rescued dog from dire situation honored by Humane Society

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jul 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-12 19:32:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some Salt Lake City firefighters are being honored for a heroic rescue.

The Humane Society of Utah honored two Salt Lake City fire stations for a recent rescue involving two distressed dogs.

A call came in on June 24 of some overheated puppies stuck on the Red Butte Living Room hiking trail, and when firefighters located the animals they realized they weren’t puppies at all. The two dogs were about 150 pounds each and were severely dehydrated.

“It was one of the more difficult rescues we’ve done, whether human or dog,” said Mike Berry, who is a firefighter with Salt Lake City Fire Department’s Station 5.

It was a 2-mile hike up the trail, and temperatures were in the 90s as fire crews located two dehydrated dogs.

The firefighters gave up their own drinking water and worked to revive the dogs. Unfortunately, one passed away on the mountain.

“We did use all of our water, we used our bodies to shade the dogs, for half an hour we rehabbed that dog to make sure it was healthy enough to make the journey back down,” said Capt. Joe Bush with Salt Lake City Fire Department's Station 10.

The 16 firefighters that made the rescue were recognized Saturday as heroes by the Humane Society of Utah.

“This act shows great compassion by the firefighters to do something about this and help pets in the community, not just in this event but as they do every day helping people and animals in the community,” said Gene Baierschmidt, who is the director of the Humane Society of Utah.

Salt Lake City fire stations 5 and 10 were presented with plaques, which will be displayed in their stations as well as in the dog runs at the Humane Society. The personnel at the stations felt honored, but firefighters said they were just doing their job.

“If you see the emotion of the owners when they get their dogs back or people reunited with their pets, it is family to them; you can see in their hearts this is their family,” Bush said.

The humane society said this story should be a strong reminder of the risks that come with taking your animals out in the heat. Right now, the morning and evening hours are best for outdoor activity and officials said it's important to make sure the animals have access to water and shade. Animal advocates are currently pushing for animal cruelty charges in another incident in which a dog died due to being exposed to excessive heat without adequate shelter or water.