Dog Saves 81-year-old Owner From Drowning After Wheelchair Skids Into Lake

A dog in South Florida saved her 81-year-old owner from drowning after his wheelchair skid down a bank and into a lake.

Port St. Lucie resident Harry Smith had taken his dog Sarah for a walk near his home when his electric wheelchair "lost traction," and slid down the bank, flipping him into the lake.

There are thousands of wheelchair related injuries in the U.S. every year. In 2003, 100,000 wheelchair related injuries had to be treated in emergency departments, which was double the amount in 1991. According to research published in 2015, there are around 2.7 million wheelchair users in the U.S.

In a Facebook post which can be seen here, Port St. Lucie Police Department said that Smith, who cannot swim, began shouting for help as he struggled to stay afloat. The post said Smith was submerged in water up to his neck.

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Sarah, a beagle mix, began to bark loudly which alerted two bystanders across the street.

Edward Suhling was working on a trailer with Aby Chacko at a home nearby when they heard the dog barking.

Suhling told local newspaper TCPalm that Sarah had been splashing her front paws in the water. He said that at first, he thought the dog may have been fighting with an alligator. But when they noticed that Smith was in trouble, they flagged down police officer Adam Doty, who had been driving nearby.

When Doty arrived, Smith was submerged in water and he worked with the residents to pull him out of the water and onto the bank.

Smith received medical attention on the scene and was deemed well enough to return home. His electric wheelchair had been damaged by the water, so Dotty and reinforcements from St. Lucie County Fire District pushed him back to his house.

He later said that Sarah is his "hero."

Smith told TCPalm that he usually brings Sarah down by the lake for a walk twice a day: "I love her. Always have, always will. She's such a good dog. Everybody in this neighborhood loves her, and they all look out for her."

Dogs are the most popular American pet, according to YouGov statistics from 2019. The statistics show that most American's have at least one pet in their home. Out of 1,275 adults, 45 percent owned a dog.

Most American pet owners (88 percent) consider their animals to be members of the family. Sixty six percent said they allowed their pet to sleep in the same bed with them. Around half of Americans said that they got a pet to keep them company.

Dog saves man from drowning
The police officers helped the bystanders pull Smith out of the lake. They then pushed him home, as his wheelchair was broken. Port St. Lucie Police Department/Port St. Lucie Police Department