In an amazing act of compassion, AP reporter, Brian Skoloff, braved the San Francisco wildfire zone and rescued a Labrador dog owned by a person who had already been evacuated.
Lawrence Ross, 76, fled his home situated in the path of fires five days ago. He met Skoloff at a high school in the small town of Lower Lake in Northern California.
When Ross was told that officials were no longer letting residents in to the evacuation zone, not even with escorts, Ross fought back tears.
“I think my house is OK, but I don’t know, and my dog is there, and my goats and horses and alpacas,” he told Skoloff. “My dog, my dog.”
Skoloff who had been covering the fire during the week was returning to the evacuation zone to look for more stories. He asked Ross to point out his house on a map and promised to check it out for him.
Getting to the home wasn’t easy. There were 10 miles of twisting roads covered with downed power lines to deal with, and Ross’ house is another quarter mile down a dirt driveway. Skoloff feared what he would find as the animals had been alone for five days, and many surrounding houses were burnt to their foundations.
Unbelievably, Ross’ home was unscathed, surrounded by charred earth where firefighters had beaten back the flames.
Two horses grazed on hay in the yard. The alpacas were safely in their pen, and goats scurried about like nothing had happened. But there was no sign of the Labrador dog, Thumper.
Skoloff called the dog, but feared the worst. He spent an hour searching for the Lab – calling her name – armed with treats.
Eventually the Labrador, covered in soot and ash, emerged from a crawlspace. Skoloff says the dog’s tail was wagging and her tongue flopping, as the pooch darted towards him and leaped into his lap. The pup then licked his face and promptly rolled over for a belly rub.
He called Ross immediately to deliver the good news.
“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,” Ross repeated over and over again.
With Thumper in his car, Skoloff sped toward town. Ross was waiting on a curb looking dazed.
Thumper pushed her way out of the vehicle and ran toward him, her entire body wagging now.
The reunion was a moment of pure joy.
“I can’t believe it,” Ross repeated again, rubbing Thumper’s belly with grateful tears in his eyes.
Ross is now homeless – living out of his car – but at least his beloved Lab is back by his side.
Image and article source: NBC Bay Area, Associated Press