Jessica Prokop

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January 3, 2014
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Douglas County sheriff's deputies pluck dog from river

One yellow Labrador had a shaky start to the new year after he became stranded Wednesday afternoon on a rock in the North Umpqua River and had to be rescued the following morning by Douglas County sheriff’s deputies.

Julie Stanbery, 60, of Roseburg was walking her dog near River Forks Park west of Roseburg at about 3:45 p.m. New Year’s Day when she saw the stranded Lab.

She called the sheriff’s office that afternoon, but marine patrol deputies weren’t on duty.

Stanbery said she didn’t recognize the dog and asked neighbors if they knew him. She also noted he wasn’t in the river Wednesday morning when she was first out walking.

Sheriff’s Cpl. Brian Melvin said he received the report from a dispatcher Thursday morning.

“We don’t know how he got out there,” Melvin said. “Typically, dogs chase ducks into the river. I suspect he floated down the river and climbed onto the rock.”

Melvin and Deputy Don Martin, who came in on his day off to pilot the rescue boat, went to retrieve the dog shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday.

Melvin said the dog wasn’t moving when the boat approached him.

The deputies had trouble getting the boat close enough to reach the dog due to low river levels, so Melvin put on insulated clothing and waded out to the rock.

The water was swift and about chest deep, said Melvin, who described the dog as “cold, shaking and whimpering.”

“He perked right up when he saw us,” Melvin said. “He was friendly, a little skittish, though.”

Melvin carried the dog back to the boat.

The rescue took about 20 minutes.

Stanbery greeted the group at the River Forks Park boat ramp, by which time the Lab was in better spirits.

The sheriff’s deputies couldn’t immediately contact the owner because the dog didn’t have a collar.

“We ask people to make sure there are ways for us to identify their dog so they can be returned safely,” Melvin said.

“It was fortunate (Stanbery) was out walking and saw him,” he said.

Douglas County Animal Control Deputy Lee Bartholomew took the dog for a checkup and to Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center.

The dog’s owner came to Saving Grace in the afternoon looking for her missing pet.

The owner, who did not want to be identified, said the Lab is 13 years old and named Max.

She said Max lives with the family on Del Rio Road in Winchester and that she doesn’t know how Max ended up in the river near River Forks Park.

• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and

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The News-Review Updated Jan 3, 2014 01:18PM Published Jan 5, 2014 10:37AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.