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Sacramento Firefighter Performs CPR to Save Drowning Dog

A firefighter from Sacramento, California, is being hailed as a hero after performing CPR on his family’s dog. He used the life-saving measure after finding the family’s 3-year-old Yorkshire Terrier and Poodle mix floating, unresponsive, in a swimming pool.   

Dog found unresponsive in swimming pool

Andy and Kim Brocchini are the parents of the dog, Whitney. The Brocchini’s son, Will, brought his four larger dogs over to their home that day. The big dogs were in the backyard by the pool. It’s unclear how Whitney ended up in the pool, as she usually isn’t allowed outside with the big dogs. But it’s possible she snuck out, the bigger dogs bumped her, and she fell into the pool. She also may have become trapped beneath one or several of them.

Regardless, the outcome was bleak: Whitney was near death in the water. Will, an EMT and firefighter for the City of Sacramento, dove into the pool. When he emerged with the pup, she had no pulse.

“She was not breathing, and her eyes were open and fixed – totally unresponsive,” Will recalled in a press release.

Dog dad performs CPR after dog drowning

Will performed CPR on the dog. He knew the procedure thanks to 30 years on the job as a firefighter. Additionally, he recently researched how to perform it on dogs because another one of his pups had breathing trouble due to a collapsed trachea.

It took 10 minutes, but Whitney finally took a breath. However, she was still unresponsive and aspirating blood. The Brocchinis rushed Whitney to the nearest veterinarian. The vet diagnosed Whitney with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema (i.e. fluid in the lungs) and aspiration pneumonia/pneumonitis. After stabilizing Whitney, the Brocchinis transferred her to the emergency animal hospital at UC Davis.

“I went to our fire station and got oxygen and a dog mask, and we gave her oxygen all the way on the 45-minute drive to Davis,” Andy said. “The team at UC Davis took her immediately and got to work.”

Dog recovers from near-fatal drowning in intensive care

Karl Jandrey, DVM, MAS, a board-certified critical care specialist, treated Whitney in the Intensive Care Unit. Though the dog was in significant respiratory distress, she did not need mechanical ventilation. However, X-rays showed substantial inflammation and bruising in her lungs. (These are common conditions following a dog drowning and receiving CPR.) After six days in an oxygen-rich environment, Whitney’s lung function improved.

“I was practically crawling inside that oxygen cage to be with her and comfort her when we were allowed to visit every day,” Kim said.

The dog parents provided Whitney’s favorite snacks while the staff watched over the pup 24/7. When Whitney’s lung function reached 95%, staff weaned her off the oxygen.

“The team in the ICU did phenomenal work,” said the Brocchinis. “We are so grateful for the way they treated us and Whitney. We were so impressed with the level of professionalism, the equipment, the facilities – everything was top notch.”

Whitney continued recovering at home. Within five weeks, her lung function returned to 100% normal – though she does still have a small scar on her lungs. She can now play and have fun again – hopefully nowhere near a swimming pool!

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