Group raises nearly $500 to buy dog rescue harnesses
Unique circumstances of a recent rescue prompted a Penn Hills fire department to seek funding for a special piece of equipment.
On July 13, emergency responders from Penn Hills and surrounding areas worked for five hours to rescue a man and his pit bull named Boss after they plummeted down a steep cliff off Grove and Lincoln roads.
Bill Jeffcoat, fire chief of Station 227 on Universal Road, said the rescue was made more difficult as the department had no harness to use to bring Boss to safety.
“We had about 90 percent of the equipment needed for that rescue,” Jeffcoat said. “But (a canine harness) is one of those things that is out of sight, out of mind. We went over the incident and said we were going to purchase one, even though the odds of using it again are slim.”
Considering a tight budget, the fire chief took to social media seeking sponsors for a $145 canine rescue harness.
“I guess we practice so much rescuing humans, we never thought about having to rescue a (canine),” the fire chief wrote on a Facebook comment thread.
When Cindy Lippert of LifeSavers Animal Rescue Inc. saw the post, she started a GoFundMe page to raise the money for two harnesses and set the goal at $400. The Westmoreland County rescue shelter focuses primarily on pit bulls scheduled to be euthanized.
“We had a lot of people who contributed — everyone was real anxious to help,” Lippert said. “Donations came in quickly. I’m so grateful that people were so eager.”
Jeffcoat said the fundraiser exceeded the $400 goal 11 hours after the GoFundMe page was created.
“I guess people have more of a soft spot for animals than people,” Jeffcoat said, laughing. The donations reached $470 with 18 individual donors, according to the GoFundMe page. The extra money was used to purchase an embroidered duffel bag to store the harnesses, Jeffcoat said.
He said the harnesses, one for small dogs and another for larger ones, will be shared with other emergency responders when needed for dogs and other similarly sized four-legged animals.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dillonswriting.