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Dog lost in raging wildfire found months later stranded on snowy California mountain

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A dog who was separated from his owner during the Caldor Fire was reunited with him after several months.

TLC4FurryFriends Instagram

A dog separated from his owner last August, when the Caldor Fire raged through the Sierra Nevada, was finally reunited with him after a skier found the dog stuck in the snow.

The dog, Russ, was found on Dec. 16. He seemed unable to move and was growling at people nearby when he was found, according to a Facebook post by Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends, the nonprofit organization that helped rescue him.

“I looked up in my headlamp and saw this dark blob in the snow under the tree well, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh it’s the dog and he’s not alive anymore,” Leona Allen, one of Russ’ rescuers, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “So I walked up, and all of a sudden he opened his eyes and lifted his head, and I screamed. It was just involuntary.”

The discovery of the dog prompted a complex rescue operation that involved tracking him up the mountain, placing him on a sled – “on top of a volunteer, so he was kept warm and calm” – and slowly and carefully moving him down the mountain, the post said.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian for evaluation. Then, officers with El Dorado County Animal Services used data from his microchip to track down his owner. They found that the dog was separated from his owner when he got scared and ran away from his owner’s vehicle when the man was in Tahoe for a job in August, the Facebook post said.

The owner made a report to Animal Services to find Russ but was evacuated before the dog could be found, the post said.

Officials with TLC 4 Furry Friends told The Associated Press that the dog’s owner was “ecstatic” to discover he was alive.

“As a rescue organization… this is what we’re supposed to do,” Allen told the AP. “I keep reliving the moment when he opened his eyes and lifted his head, and just the joy and elation inside of me was overwhelming. It’s one more life that gets to live happy and warm and safe.”

The Caldor Fire was one of two fires in recorded history to burn across the Sierra Nevada, The New York Times reported. The second one, the Dixie Fire, was the second-largest recorded fire in California history.

The Caldor Fire was first reported on Aug. 14, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. By the time the fire reached 100% containment on Oct. 21, it had burned across 221,835 acres.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Real-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Arizona PBS.



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