Fido (and Me) to the Rescue
Would you risk your life to save your pet? A few of us already have.
In September, 2008, Greg LeNoir of Florida, watched in disbelief as a large shark scooped up Jake, his 14-pound rat terrier, who had been enjoying a swim in the ocean. LeNoir, standing on the pier, made his decision in a split second: he dove straight onto the shark, and the impact of the blow dislodged the dog from the shark’s jaws. On his swim back to shore through bloodied waters, screaming dog in tow, Le Noir had more time to fret about his own safety.
Over half of US pet owners (1 in 1.79, 56%) say that given the same choice, they would very likely put the life of their pets ahead of their own safety. And Americans are not alone. A poll of New Zealanders, released in 2010, found that 58% of people surveyed said they would risk their own lives to save their animals. If those figures seem inflated, consider that after an Ann Arbor, Michigan woman jumped into a frigid river to save her dog, an online poll conducted by the local paper revealed that a full 66% of the 272 readers responding vowed they would do the same.
About the same percentage (1 in 1.56, 64%) of people who own pets believe those animals would just as willingly jump into harm’s way to save them. There’s no shortage of stories of cats, dogs, even a rabbit, a mule, and a pet rat, that roused their owners to save them from fire. And pets not only alert their owners to danger, they can even summon help, like Buddy, a German Shepherd, that was recently honored for the ingenuity and grit he displayed in leading an Alaskan state trooper to the site of a fire where his owner had suffered serious burns. Some pets even provide the help directly, like Toby, a golden retriever, who performed a version of the Heimlich maneuver to save his owner, who was choking on a piece of apple.
But there are also stories that can only be labeled a noble form of animal sacrifice. In May, 2009, a five-year-old black Lab mix was nearly killed when she defended her owners from a mountain lion attack in California. And early in 2010, a Golden Retriever in British Columbia was mauled by a cougar when he jumped in to save his owner, 11-year-old Austin Forman. The dog, named Angel, stumbled to his feet after the cougar was shot, and with blood dripping from his wounds, went to check on Austin.
It is no wonder that among those of us who own pets, 1 in 2.01 consider them part of the family.