Although this dog's happy ending began in February 2003, it continues today, where Lucky enjoys a happy home with Kearny Firefighter Capt. Tom McDermott, his wife and their two chocolate Labs, Smokie, (pictured at right), and Abby.
Lucky was one of our most famous animal rescue stories ever, covered heavily by all media. We received an alert on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 shortly after 8 a.m.from the Kearny Police Dept. that a dog was stuck on an ice floe in the
middle of the Passaic River. We geared up immediately, got our aluminum boat and arrived at the banks of the river, first on the scene. Soon responding to the call were the Kearny, North Arlington and and Newark Fire Departments, the NJ State Police and Kearny EMS.
In the middle of floating chunks of ice was a stark and forlorn figure, a pup with nowhere to go but into the frozen river. We put our boat into the river at 9 am and with the boat attached to shore by a towline, Capt. McDermott and Newark Shelter General manager, George Smith, began to row towards the dog.
It took two hours to reach the dog due to heavy currents and crashing ice floes, but at last the object of our animal rescue efforts was close by. Excited, the dog began wagging and barking, but the ice floes kept pushing the lightweight boat away. Finally, Capt. McDermott took a big risk and disconnected the boat from the towline to approach the dog. Speaking calmly to the dog, Smith placed a snarepole around his neck, and McDermott rowed closer so Lucky could be gently led into the boat.
With a sigh of relief, the animal rescue was complete! North Arlington Firefighter's powerboat towed the three to shore. It was discovered soon after that the dog was only 9 months old and had escaped from a yard on the far side of the river. Once contacted, the elderly owners, who had not even known he was missing, did not want him back.
But someone had already gotten attached ... and Tom McDermott said if no one claimed or wanted him, he'd be happy to adopt him. And that's exactly what happened. Tom brought his one Lab, Smokie, to the Society to meet Lucky, and they got along great. At home, Lucky also found a friend in Abby, (right), the second chocolate Lab. The three dogs are great friends, and Lucky continues to be one lucky pooch in a truly loving home.
An interesting sidebar to this animal rescue story ... that in the midst of an economic crunch, and with war looming in Iraq, the world focused its attention - for just one moment - on the plight of a terrified dog stranded on the ice and his heroic rescue. Lucky's story made front page news in newspapers all over the country and on evening news nationwide on TV, perhaps a sign that in the midst of turbulent world events, our hearts really are still in the right place.