Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 10:50 a.m.
A West Central Spokane woman is thankful a City of Spokane employee rescued her dog from the Spokane River.
On Oct. 29, Mary Ellen Doty was walking “Mack" in the Kendall Yards area, when Mack disappeared over an embankment.
"He was off leash and he was doing great. We were on the part of the trail that's very, very close to the ledge that goes down to the river. And I looked back, and he was gone," Doty recalls.
Mack had been missing for about two hours when Code Enforcement Officer Rob Chiappe heard someone yelling about a dog struggling in the swift current.
Chiappe was in the area investigating a code enforcement violation.
"Well I had a complaint about a homeless camp and usually with those, it's the garbage I'm after. And I hear people across the river frantically waving and pointing. So I took off running and got to him," Chiappe said.
It appears Mack was able to get closer to the shore when he was swept into an eddy with a small beach.
"And I warmed him up best I could and then the gentleman, I ran into earlier, found the owner and she came down. Really happy to see her dog obviously," said Chiappe with a smile.
"He was just completely wet and the poor thing, at this point and time, he couldn't walk," added Doty.
Chiappe and Doty’s adult son then took turns carrying Mack back up the steep slope.
Doty thanked Chiappe and rushed the dog to the South Grand Vet Clinic where Doctor Steven Rush gave Mack the once over.
"He did take x-rays, he said there were no fractures but it was possible there was a spinal cord injury and we'd just have to wait and see," explained Doty.
While Doty hoped for Mack's recovery, she tried to track down the code enforcement officer who had saved her beloved pet.
“Rob went down a very, very steep embankment to get to the river and got my dog out of the river or he’d be dead for sure. And then he helped my son carry the dog out of there which is nothing but straight up. It’s just really heroic and way above and beyond the call of duty. I just want to recognize him,” Doty said in a voicemail she left for Chiappe’s superiors.
Word of Chiappe’s heroics quickly spread around Spokane City Hall.
So at Doty’s request, Chiappe’s boss arranged a little reunion for Mack to make a surprise appearance at the Code Enforcement Office.
“Hey, Rob? Hey, how are you doing? You don't even look the same. How are you? Guess who this is? Do you remember him,” Doty asked Chiappe during their brief reunion.
“Oh yea, I remember you. He's doing o-k I see,” Chiappe replied.
Doty brought pizza for Chiappe’s code enforcement colleagues. But as happy Doty is about a stranger's kindness, she's still mad at herself for losing Mack.
"Well I'm sort of the protagonist in this story because I had him off-leash, we did that often, or we had done it often, but we don't anymore," Doty said in retrospect.
"Had it not been for Rob, I mean we wouldn't have a dog today. I mean we would have never known what happened to him,” Doty said thankfully.
"Well I love dogs, but obviously if a dog is in trouble, somebody's pet, you know I'm not gonna let it drown. It's definitely a good day when you can go out and help reunite somebody with their dog," concluded the 22-year City employee.