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‘Luna’ dog-gone happy with Lathrop Manteca firefighters’ response
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Lathrop Manteca Firefighters responded to a call on Tuesday to help free a dog that had become trapped after pushing its head through an opening in a cinder block wall. Despite being scared, Luna was freed without injury after crews used hand tools to help break her loose.

The Lathrop Manteca Fire District received an unusual call on Tuesday morning of a dog that had become trapped in a cinder block wall. 

A Woodward Avenue resident called 911 to report the incident and was told that there was nothing that emergency crews could do to help free the animal. 

So the resident turned around and called the Lathrop Manteca Fire District directly, which dispatched Engine 32 from the South Union Road station.

After about an hour – and with the assistance of the district’s Rescue 30 unit that is outfitted with tools for extractions and specialty response – ‘Luna’ was returned to the arms of her owner. 

According to Battalion Chief Larry Madoski, the crew on scene made the decision to use hand tools so to not scare the animal, and ended up using a pinch bar and a sledge hammer to carefully remove a piece of the concrete wall so that the dog’s head could be freed.

“It’s not a call that we get every day,” Madoski said of the unique circumstances of the district’s response. “But we are seeing the number of complicated incidents increasing in our call volume – with more logistical distribution centers we are seeing more hazardous materials calls and other specialty rescue incidents.”

Even though the entire ordeal harkened back to the stereotypical firefighter rescuing a cat stuck in a tree, Madoski said that any time first responders can witness a happy ending it is a good day – something that they look forward to seeing. 

“We don’t think any less of these types of incidents when we do end up responding to them,” Madoski said. “It’s gratifying – when we show up sometimes people are having a very bad day, and it’s rewarding to be able to somehow make their bad day just a little bit better.”

A San Joaquin County Animal Control officer also responded and assisted with the rescue. 

While animal rescue calls aren’t exactly typical for the district – which provides fire coverage for all of the City of Lathrop and a large swath of rural land outside of Manteca’s city limits – they aren’t necessarily unheard of, either. 

Last year crews responded to the report of an animal trailer that had overturned alongside the Highway 120 Bypass, trapping a horse inside. With the help of special tools and with the assistance of a veterinarian that was on scene, the horse was able to be extricated without any major injuries. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.