Thursday, August 13, 2009

Canines saved after collision on Hwy 243

Animal Control Officer Michelle Rousseau smiles after recovering the two crash-surviving dogs, Maya (on the officer's right) and Nikita (with the long, silky head of hair on the officer's left).(Photo courtesy of Riverside County Animal Services Captain Betsy Ritchie).

About 9:30 a.m. today, two cars collided on Highway 243 between Banning and Twin Pines.

One occupant was trapped in the vehicle and had to be extracted. Several individuals were transported to local hospitals.

Two female malamute wolf hybrids were occupants of one of the vehicles. Following the crash they ran loose on the highway.

The dogs appeared very nervous and shaken, but didn’t appear injured whatsoever, according to Riverside County Animal Control Officer Michelle Rousseau, who recovered both dogs.

Maya, about 1-year-old, was more trusting and easier to control, she said.

“Maya finally got close enough and I slipped on her leash,” Rousseau said. “She came up and licked my face – and that’s how I got her.”

After the highway was opened about 11:45, Nikta, the second and older dog (about 16 months), was apprehended about 12:30. Nikita didn’t seem to trust Rousseau. At one point, because of the danger to the dog and vehicles on the highway, Rousseau and her colleague, Officer James Huffman, considered the use of a tranquilizer gun.

It took some coaxing, but finally Nikita finally succumbed. Somehow she figured the officers were there to help.

“Nikita seemed very desperate,” Rousseau said. “I called out her name and she came up to me and sat down. I put her leash around her and she kissed me.”

Officer Rousseau transported the dogs to a boarding facility in Banning, as requested by the dogs’ owners.

Responding agencies included the California Highway Patrol, firefighters from Riverside County/Cal Fire’s Station 89 out of Banning, Caltrans and Riverside County Animal Services.

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