Strangers in Salt Lake City, Utah, came together in a remarkable effort to free a dog that became trapped in a tar pit.
Tom George, the owner of the trapped dog, Shelby, had planned for a quiet day with his dog at the Great Salt Lake’s spiral jetty. Things took a dramatic turn, however, when Shelby suddenly became stuck in a tar pit. Panicked and unable to get cell phone service to call for help, George left Shelby in the pit and drove an hour to the next town to try and get some assistance. Luckily, George encountered a family that agreed to stay with the dog while he tried to find help.
“The whole time I was driving I kind of figured there was already a really good chance he was already gone,” George said. As the family tended to helpless Shelby, more and more people began to gather as they heard about what happened. When local reporter Todd Tanner – who’d driven to take video of the spiral jetty – arrived at the scene, he was shocked to discover that only Shelby’s head was visible through the tar. Tanner said he was convinced that the dog was dying.
As more people gathered to the terrifying scene, they began working together to rescue Shelby with whatever resources they had available. Grocery bags, floor mats from cars, tarp and even a straw hat were all used to attempt to pull the dog free from the thick tar. The group worked tirelessly for over an hour, and was eventually able to get Shelby out.
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“Total strangers talked, and worked, shoulder to shoulder, and figured it out, Tanner said. “They didn't know each other’s names, and they didn't care. They ruined their clothes, they interrupted their plans, and they made a memory to last a lifetime. And yes, they saved Shelby.”
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Veterinarians worked for nearly eight hours to completely remove the 40 pounds of tar from Shelby’s body, and were forced to shave most of his hair to do so. The dog eventually made a full recovery and began growing back his coat.
The rescuers who came to Shelby’s aid all said they would never forget the experience – especially the feeling of coming together to save a life.
“You know what the best part is, though? Everybody that heard came and brought something and tried to help, and everybody had ideas,” rescuer Cathy McGregor said. “I mean there were 20 people out here trying to get this little dog out.”