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Rescued dog had rough night in Jeannette storm drains, sewers

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Fireman Gary Mumper with the 8-month old German Shepherd he rescued from the storm sewer system.

Saturday was National Puppy Day and it was definitely a big week for one pup in Jeannette.

Jackson, an 8-month-old German shepherd was trapped in the Brush Creek canal between Fifth and Sixth streets off of Cassatt Avenue last Monday.

The dog then ventured into the storm drain and sewage system via a large tunnel.

A call was made to the Jeannette Fire Department and responders lowered a ladder into the canal so fireman Gary Mumper went in after the dog. But, as he reached for the dog, it snapped at him and he had to back off.

Fire Chief Joe Matijevic said the Westmoreland County Animal Response Team (CART) was called to assist with the rescue.

“A no-kill trap was set, but it didn't work,” said Matijevic. “We also called the city engineer Ed Antonacci and the city foreman Rich Ault to assist us. We got maps of the storm drains. We didn't want anyone getting lost, plus time was a factor. We spent six hours Monday night and five hours on Tuesday (looking for the dog). Everybody helped out.”

According to Lori Mozina-Ogurchak, of Westmoreland CART, “We don't normally have situations like this. It's rare for us. We did have a small dog go down a drain, over by the Elliott Company.”

Mozina-Ogurchak also echoed Matijevic's words and said, “We all helped. Everybody helped in some way; we tried to help with the equipment that we had.”

Helping out also included some Jeannette sanitation workers who heard the dog barking in the canal last Tuesday morning. The two municipal workers were able to lure the dog to an area of the creek along Chambers Avenue and flush him into a thicket.

Mumper, who had been working nearby, was able to help.

“I approached the dog from behind and started petting it until the owner came over and leashed it. She and I pulled it out and then I carried the animal to the car.”

“After getting to know the dog, I came to realize that it was such a nice dog. When it snipped at me on Monday, it was more of a play snip and I wished I had just grabbed him,” said Mumper.

The 8-month-old pup, whose name is Jackson, had been wandering through storm and sewer water and Mozina-Ogurchak, said it was imperative that the dog be taken to the vet.

Along with providing the no-kill trap, “Part of what we do is help (financially) with vetting if it's needed,” said Mozina-Ogurchak. “The dog had been running in raw sewage.”

Mozina-Ogurchak made an appointment for the dog to go to the vet, but the person who said she was the dog's owner, Johnette Steele of Jeannette, did not keep the appointment.

Currently, according to Mozina-Ogurchak, the dog has not had a rabies vaccine and is in foster care awaiting a veterinary appointment. The dog was also not licensed as required by Westmoreland County. For the dog to be returned to Steele's custody, she would have to prove ownership of the dog. If she cannot provide proof she owns Jackson, the dog will be placed for adoption by one of the no-kill shelters in the area.

A call to the phone number that Steele provided to CART was answered by an unidentified male, who said Steele was out, but would call back later. A phone message was also left for Steele, but she has not responded to either call.

According to Mozina-Ogurchak, this case is a perfect example of why pet owners need to keep current with their animal's veterinary care and also with required licensing.

“We can never assume that just because someone is claiming it is their dog, that it really is,” said Mozina-Ogurchak. “This is why they should have a license, rabies shot and a micro chip. Pet owners should also have a current dated picture taken with their dog.”

For information on Westmoreland CART, visit or call Mozina-Ogurchak at 724-838-0420.

Margie Stanislaw is a contributing writer.