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Altoona Firefighters Save Dog from Car Crash on I-80

ALTOONA, Iowa -- The Altoona Fire Department tended to a different type of patient Sunday at the scene of a head on crash near the East Mix Master on Interstate 80.

In addition to saving people from what looked like a deadly car wreck, firefighters also rescued a black lab that was in the back seat.

“During the extrication process we did see a female bystander in the back seat tending to a dog. We later found the dog laying on the concrete. It was pretty cold and windy and I’m sure all Iowans are aware of how crazy this weather has been. And some grown, gruff men quickly turned into some tender hearted fellas and we wrapped up the dog in some hospital blankets we carry in our fire engine and put the dog in our engine to wait for animal control to arrive,” Altoona Fire Department Lieutenant Doug Richardson said.

Eventually the firefighters had to transport the dog in their fire engine to the Animal Rescue League who then took her to an emergency veterinarian where she is now recovering after some surgery on her hind legs.

“It’s just doing the right thing, taking care of that animal. We have animals at home as well. So just maybe, we were able to give that family some comfort that, although they are going through their own traumatic event at that point, their dog was in good hands too.” Richardson said.

The ARL said whenever there are crashes involving animals, it's a good reminder to look at your own safety habits.

They recommend dog auto harnesses and crates to keep dogs safe during and after a crash.

“It keeps them in the car which is really important. Just like us being buckled in, there can still be a possibility of injuries, but the goal is to reduce those, as well as injuries to the driver. And like I said, keeping them from becoming lost, escaping the vehicle. It’s traumatizing for everyone, but dogs they could potentially bolt,” ARL Dog and Enrichment Coordinator Cassandra Johnson said.

Even though these safety precautions aren’t required by law, Craig Johnson, a manager at Petsakes said more people are asking for them.