After an ordinary lunch break turned into a traumatic experience, Utah veterinarian Wynlee Decker has an important message for fellow pet owners. Decker almost lost her three-legged pup named Tobi in an area where they have visited countless times. The Pine View canal was moving fast that day, and now she wants to warn the dog-loving community about the dangers of fast-moving waters.
Decker and Tobi regularly decide to spend lunch outdoors somewhere near Decker’s office at North Ogden Animal Hospital. Last week, it was hot out, and Decker took Tobi to a quiet trail where she’s used to letting him hike alongside her off-leash. This time, however, the water in the nearby canal was moving faster than usual. Decker had only a second to think of the danger before her water-loving dog decided to jump in to cool himself off. Decker told FOX 13,
“It [the canal] wasn’t even on my radar, even though I know better than that.”
As a veterinarian, Decker has treated countless dogs for injuries received after swimming in streams and rivers. And when she saw Tobi splash into the canal and immediately be swept away by the current, her heart lurched through her chest. She watched helplessly as Tobi was carried down the canal and through a grate that lead into the culvert. Decker said,
“I thought he was going to drown, I knew he was going to drown. In my mind, I lost him. In my heart, I lost him.”
With only three legs to pull him through the water, Tobi’s efforts to swim back to his owner were useless. He quickly got tired, and soon, he was struggling to keep his head above water.
Decker yelled for help, but no one was around. Then she pulled out her phone and pleaded with her co-worker to get there as soon as he could. In the meantime, her mind raced with ways she could save Tobi. She wedged herself through the same grate Tobi went through and tried making her way toward him.
“He was just looking at me for help and I couldn’t do anything…it was horrible.”
After several minutes of desperately trying to swim toward each other, Decker finally got her hands on Tobi’s collar. She wasn’t strong enough to pull him out of the water, but she clung to him while using the strength she had left to keep his head from going under. She held him against a cement wall and refused to let go. She said,
“I promised myself I would never let go of him. Once I saw him leave and knew he could drown and I had a hold of him, ‘I can’t let go, I can’t let go.”
Decker held on to Tobi for about an hour until her co-worker finally spotted them. He helped pull both Decker and Tobi to safety, and their nightmare ordeal was finally over. She let out a desperate sigh of relief, but she also knew her situation could have ended a lot differently. She could have easily lost her dog due to a simple mistake in judgement.
Now that Tobi is safe in her arms, Decker encourages all dog owners to always keep their dogs on a leash. Dogs can’t tell when the water is too fast to swim in, and it’s up to their families to keep them safe. Tobi is now happy by his owner’s side, and she knows she’ll never take him for granted or forget the day she almost lost him to the canal.
Featured image screenshot via Fox13