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Workers' search ends at Brush Creek with scared but safe puppy

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Two Jeannette employees spotted an 8-month-old German shepherd on Tuesday morning after it eluded would-be rescuers for hours.

City sanitation department workers Mike Evangelist and Angelo Mochado found the puppy and, along with firefighter Gary Mumper Jr., managed to corral it on the banks of Brush Creek.

The dog had spent at least part of Monday night in an underground storm drain along the waterway.

“I was happy. I didn't want him to get loose again, because I didn't know if we would get another opportunity,” Mumper said.

The rescue came after a cumulative effort among firefighters, the Westmoreland County Animal Response Team and other city officials, he said.

But the dog, named Jackson, apparently is unlicensed, needs to be vaccinated, and its owner does not have proof that it is her dog, fire Chief Joe Matijevic said.

He said Johnette Steele of Jeannette reported the dog missing about 6 p.m. Monday.

That spurred about nine firefighters, four animal response team members and other city officials to canvass Brush Creek, where the dog eventually entered the drain, city public works foreman Rich Ault said.

Mumper said he managed at one point Monday night to grab the dog inside a tunnel when “he snipped at me and — just reflex — I pulled back and he ran and took off.”

“I wish I would've grabbed him last night and eliminated a lot of the issues,” Mumper said on Tuesday morning.

An animal response team member tried to snare the dog inside a tunnel, but it wouldn't come close enough, said coordinator Lori Mozina-Ogurchak.

The team set up a trap with treats and food inside, she said.

“Then it's just a matter of you have to wait,” she said. “Every once in a while we would hear (it) howl, and it was good because we knew (it) was alive.”

Jackson managed to retrieve the food but escaped the trap, Mozina-Ogurchak said.

The group called off the search about 11 p.m. Monday and resumed about 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The dog was shivering and scared when the three men were able to corner it, Ault said.

Steele was able to place a leash on the dog and was advised to take it to a veterinarian for precautionary reasons, he said. Voice-mail messages left at a number provided for Steele were not returned.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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