PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has bestowed an award on members of the Zebulon Fire Department who rescued a dog from a freezing pond on Feb. 17.
PETA says its “Compassionate Fire Department Award” comes with a framed certificate, a vegan box of chocolates and a copy of “The Engine 2 Diet,” a book written by an Austin, Texas firefighter about his 28-day plan to stay in shape by eating plant-based meals.
Zebulon firefighters earned the award, PETA says, when they answered a call from 12-year-old Bryanna Schug that her 8-year-old terrier, Brody, had fallen through the ice into a freezing pond. Firefighters used poles to break up the ice and tied two ladders together, extended them 30-35 feet across the ice to give Brody something to cling onto as they guided him back to shore.
“The undaunted courage of the Zebulon Fire Department and other rescuers involved meant the difference between life and death for this lucky dog,” PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch said in a statement. “PETA hopes the rescuers’ kindness and bravery will inspire others to come to the aid of animals in need.”
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The rescue, which took place in the Tippett Creek neighborhood off Debnam Road in Zebulon, garnered attention on local and national television.
Zebulon Fire Chief Chris Perry said the continued recognition from PETA was not expected.
“This thing obviously happened and the news camera happened to be there,” Perry said. “We just had no idea how much news would spread and the good comments we’ve had. It’s been weird because there’s been similar incidents in the area, but none of them got the kind of attention this one did.”
He said rescuing the dog was as important as any other call the fire department responds to.
“I think it’s still a big deal,” Perry said. “The value of something like that is in the eye of the beholder. That dog was a member of their family, and I guess that’s the key to this.”
Wintry weather made for longer-than-normal response times and the small dog was in the water 30 minutes or longer before Perry and his crew arrived, responding along with Eastern Wake EMS, Wake County Sheriff’s deputies and Wendell Fire. For that reason, Perry had said he considered the dog the hero.
“He sat there this whole time treading water and then when the ladder got out there he’s the one that made the effort to get up on it,” he said. “He’s the star of the story.”
Perry said the certificate from PETA will join other recognitions on a wall at the Zebulon Fire Department and that the chocolates and cook book will be put to good use.