Helicopter and 50 firefighters join forces to rescue dog

May 16, 2017 5:37 pm Last Updated: May 16, 2017 5:37 pm

The Los Angeles Fire Department has defended its decision to deploy about 50 firefighters and a helicopter to rescue a dog from the Los Angeles River.

Capt. Steve Ruda said the risk involved with saving the German shepherd from the storm-swollen river on Friday was not as extravagant as it appeared.

The department has received praise for the hour-long rescue operation, but has also come under criticism for using so many resources.

Mr Ruda said there was no extra cost because the firefighters were on duty and stationed nearby.

The German shepherd, nicknamed Vernon after the southern California town where it was found, was saved when a firefighter dangling from a helicopter grabbed the dog and held tight as they were taken to an overpass. The dog bit the firefighter, who lost a nail and fractured his thumb.

Joe St Georges, 50, said he had no hard feelings toward the dog.

“I didn’t really have the time to establish any rapport with the dog,” Mr St Georges told reporters after being released from County USC medical centre. “He’s cold, he’s wet, he’s scared, and then here’s this stranger jumping on his back for all intents and purposes, and he did what dogs do.”

The animal had no name tag or chip, and police are searching for its owner.