A dog pulled a baby deer from the water off the coast of Long Island this past weekend in New York.
Owner Mark Freeley told CBS New York he was taking his golden retriever, Storm, for a walk Sunday when he “plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck, and started swimming to shore.”
Dramatic video captured the moment when Storm rescued the 3-month-old deer, paddling hurriedly toward the shore in Port Jefferson Harbor.
“Storm is trying to save this baby deer — I think he’s trying to save him,” Freeley can be heard saying in the video, which was later posted to Facebook. Freeley called out to the pooch: “Storm, bring him in! Storm, bring him in! Good boy, Storm, bring him in!”
“Storm is saving this baby deer right this minute,” he said, as the dog dragged the deer to the beach.
When Storm let the animal go, he got up and scurried away, then collapsed. Storm ran after it.
“Leave him, Storm!” Freeley started shouting at the dog. “Storm, it’s okay. Storm, leave him, okay?”
The video showed the deer breathing heavily and lying still on the sand, as the dog nudged its body and pawed its leg. “Good job, boy,” Freeley said. “She’s okay.”
Freeley could not immediately be reached for comment.
Frank Floridia, with Strong Island Animal Rescue League, responded to the beach to care for the deer. But as he, Freeley and Storm approached, the fawn, which was “completely disoriented,” got spooked and ran into the water again, the animal rescue’s co-founder, Erica Kutzing, told The Washington Post.
“They tried to encourage Storm to go back into the water, but the deer was so far out that Storm could not see the deer,” Kutzing said.
When they saw the deer’s head was underwater, Kutzing said, Floridia went into the water to rescue the animal.
“It was a do-or-die situation,” Floridia told the New York Daily News about the moment he decided to jump into the water. “I really didn’t have much of a choice. If I didn’t go in the water, the deer would’ve died.”
Kutzing, with the animal rescue group, said that deer can swim — even in the Long Island Sound — but that this deer was too young and appeared to be in a panic because it was separated from its mother.
The fawn was transported to the Star Foundation, a wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center, where it is currently being treated for subcutaneous emphysema, a condition in which air gets trapped under the skin.
Lori Ketcham, a director at the Star Foundation, told The Post that specialists have wrapped the deer to keep the air from expanding and are treating it for other minor injuries, including a scraped eye and ticks.
Ketcham said once the deer has recovered and is old enough it will be released back in the wild.