An 8-year-old Shepherd mix named Butch was rescued after getting trapped in Stewarts Creek for a whole night in freezing temperatures.
According to Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh, Paul Rocco’s dog wandered away Sunday, and like any loving dog owner, Rocco searched all day for Butch.
Rocco's efforts in his neighborhood off of One Mile Lane turned up empty. On Monday, he was back at it. Temperatures were in the 30s.
As Rocco called Butch’s name, he finally heard his familiar bark. Rocco tracked Butch’s bark to Stewart's Creek, where he found him trapped in the water.
“He was hanging onto a branch,” Rocco said of the 8-year-old dog. “He was entangled in some sticky vines and thorns," Rocco told Sheriff's officials.
He called 911, saying he was going to jump into the creek to rescue the dog, but the dispatcher told him not to because Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Herron was nearby.
Herron, Deputy Matthew Arrington and Almaville Volunteer Rescue Department quickly responded and rescued Butch.
“It was pretty dramatic and traumatic,” Rocco said of the search and rescue.
Once the deputy got to Butch, he saw he was wrapped up in vines in the creek, pinning him down.
“It was horrible,” Herron said. “The only thing sticking out of the water was his head. He was whimpering and shaking so badly. He just wanted to get out of the water.”
Rocco said Herron “hacked his way through the vines on the slippery creek and got to the dog.”
“I was able to pull the dog out of the water,” Herron said. “We got him out of the water and that was the main thing.”
Firefighters and deputies helped lift the dog, weighing about 100 pounds, from the water and carried him up the muddy, slippery ravine to a thankful Rocco.
Rocco said it was stroke of luck he found Butch. The dog had entered the creek upstream, but drifted down to where he became trapped overnight.
“Butch is fine but tired,” Rocco said of the dog. “We dried him, warmed him up, wrapped him in blankets and gave him food and water. He looks like he’s doing pretty good.”
Rocco said the deputies and firefighters did a great job in the rescue.
“I can’t thank them enough,” Rocco said.
Herron said the rescue was a team effort between the deputies and firefighters.
“I’m thankful for our brothers,” Herron said, adding, “This is my dream job and I love doing my job every day.”