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Heroic Service Dog Hurls Himself Between Blind Owner and Mini-Bus

Both were struck, but Figo the Golden Retriever took the brunt of the blow. He and his owner are expected to make a full recovery.

Jeff Goldberg  |  Jun 10th 2015


For Figo the Golden Retriever, protecting his blind owner isn’t just a service, it’s a duty. And it was never more heroically displayed than on Monday morning in Brewster, N.Y.

When Figo, a guide dog for the blind, realized a mini-school bus was bearing down on his 62-year-old owner, Audrey Stone, the dog raced into action with a selfless act of bravery, hurling himself into the bus’ path in order to save Stone from being hit.

Both Figo and Stone were struck, but both are expected to fully recover from their injuries, and Figo is being hailed as a hero.

“The dog took a lot of the blow,” Brewster Police chief John Del Gardo told the Westchester County Journal News. “And he did not want to leave her side. He stood right with her. He was there to save her.”

Figo the service dog recovers after being hit by a mini-bus while protecting its blind owner on Monday. (Courtesy Middlebranch Veterinary)

Figo the service dog recovers after being hit by a mini-bus while protecting his blind owner on Monday. (Courtesy Middlebranch Veterinary)

Figo sustained a severe injury to his right front leg – witnesses described it as being cut down to the bone – but a spokesman for Middlebranch Veterinary said Figo underwent surgery on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery.

Stone was in Danbury Hospital with a broken ankle and elbow, as well as three broken ribs. Figo will remain at Middlebranch until Stone fully recovers.

The accident occurred at approximately 8:15 a.m. on Monday, when the bus, carrying two kindergartners, failed to see Stone and Figo crossing the street. When it became clear the slow-moving mini-bus would not stop, Figo hurled himself at the driver’s side wheel in order to protect Stone.

“I don’t know if [the driver] thought [Stone] was going to move faster, but it looks like the dog tried to take most of the hit for her,” said Paul Schwartz, who witnessed the accident.”There were 15 EMTs and people all around her, and the dog didn’t want to leave her side. He was flopping over to her and, she didn’t want him to get away from her, either. She kept screaming, ‘Where’s [Figo?] Where’s [Figo]?’ We kept telling her he was fine.”

figo-3

Figo the service dog recovers after being hit by a mini-bus while protecting its blind owner on Monday. (Courtesy Middlebranch Veterinary)

Schwartz and one of the EMTs bandaged the dog’s right leg.

“The dog was being a good sport, really calm,” Schwartz said. “He sat with me the whole time. He was limping as we put him on a big blanket on the sidewalk and it started to rain. He let us wrap up his leg without any problem. He wasn’t barking or crying or yelping. But he kept pulling toward her. After she was put on a gurney and taken away, he stopped doing that. He seemed a little lost after she left.”

“After she left, we put him in the [fire] truck and they took him to the vet.”

The driver of the mini-bus was given a summons for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

Via Journal News

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About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).