By Sara Hendrickson

One evening in early June, Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) Humane Law Enforcement Officers Matt Belue and David Goldberg received a call from a railroad company employee about a dog, alone and on the loose, that had been hit by a train not far from the Shelter in Magnolia near the Emerson Street Bridge.

Maintaining phone contact with the railroad employee, Officers Belue and Goldberg rushed to the scene in their truck, but by the time they arrived, the dog had run off. When the worker let the officers know he had caught up with the dog, Belue and Goldberg hiked a quarter mile, stretcher in tow, to finally reach the man and dog.

“[The] poor little guy looked pretty beat up, in shock, wouldn’t move at all,” Belue says. The dog, named Odin, was an Italian Greyhound with no identification besides a license tag on his collar. He had suffered a severed tail, a large laceration to a front leg, and apparent head trauma.

Belue and Goldberg were able to gently wrap Odin in blankets and transport him to an emergency clinic where doctors, already alerted to the situation and expecting Odin’s arrival, were waiting to care for him. Thanks to the license tag on Odin’s collar, SAS was able to get in touch with the owner, who met the officers at the clinic. Although Odin was microchipped, it was the tag he was wearing—accompanied by the owner’s current contact information on file—that allowed SAS to reach his owner so quickly.

After spending about twenty-four hours at the clinic, Odin’s condition stabilized and he was able to go home with his owner. Looking back at the incident, Officer Belue says that “with everybody working together—the flow of communication going so smoothly—it really helped the situation a lot.” He gives special credit to the railroad employee who called in the emergency: “A lot of [the rescue’s success was due to the fact] that he had gone the extra mile to find the dog and stand with it.”

Advice for pet owners

Odin’s escape from his fenced yard offers a lesson for pet owners, according to Belue. “This was around the time that the nice weather starts to roll in,” he says. “[It’s] important for folks to remember that you don’t have to leave your animals outside.” Even though it can feel a bit unfair to leave Fido in the house while you’re out playing in the sun, Belue reminds us that dogs left alone in yards tend to get bored and quickly start trying to find ways to get out—or they inadvertently get out.

Additionally, Belue says, make sure that your pets are licensed and wearing their license tag at all times, and keep current contact information on file. People often lose a cell phone, move, or transfer ownership of pets and forget to update their contact information on the pet’s license. The example of what happened with Odin, Belue says, “is a big reason why it’s so important to license your animals and keep your contact information up to date.”

Just as important: Every dollar from licensing supports the life-saving work of the Seattle Animal Shelter, including the efforts of Officers Belue and Goldberg, and the rest of the Humane Animal Law Enforcement team.

Information about how to update your pet’s license or contact information is available here.