Pasco firefighter who helped rescue dog from lake visits her during recovery

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PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – A dog rescued from a lake in Holiday on Wednesday got a special visitor as she continued her recovery at the Suncoast Animal League’s thrift shop.

Esther, a 12-year-old pup, was rescued after three women could hear a dog crying from the lake. One woman called 911 and firefighters from Station #12 were sent to help.

One of those rescuers was Brian Ducharme.

“Oh, it was something different, one definitely to remember. Efforts go out to everybody at the station who helped me, especially Bud Irwin. He was the bigger guy with the longer arms that was able to pull her out, I was just there assisting,” he explained to 8 On Your Side. “At the station, I’m kind of – whenever a call comes out for an animal rescue, they’re always the ones to say, ‘hey, this is your call.’ But my initial thoughts were, ‘I’m getting wet tonight,’ because in the notes, it said the dog was in a lake, so I’m like, ‘well, empty the pockets and get ready to go in.’”

That thankfully wasn’t the case. Esther was close to some rocks by the seawall and firefighters were able to pull her up.

She was taken to an emergency animal clinic by Pasco County Animal Services and brought to Suncoast Animal League that morning.

The league’s executive director, Rick Chaboudy, told us Esther is in bad shape from years of abuse, not just from treading water in cold temperatures.

She was found malnourished and is almost fully blind. A veterinarian believes she was probably bred several times throughout her life.

“Her heart sounded good. She has severe ear infections, she has major dental issues and the front part of her mouth, those teeth need to be removed but in her condition, you can’t put her under anesthesia. So we’re going to have to wait until she gets a little bit healthier for that,” Chaboudy explained.

Though Esther is struggling, Chaboudy said her spirit is not broken.

“She’s kind of a mess but she’s hanging in there. And she’s trying, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I’m sure that’s what kept her alive the other night and the fact that she has that strong will to live, we’re seeing it already. And it does appear overnight that she’s gotten a little bit stronger.

Chaboudy said it’s their job to make sure she’s comfortable in her recovery, and to let her have the time of her life, however long that’s going to be.

That’s something Ducharme can relate to as an animal lover himself.

“Me and my wife, we’re animal lovers, we work with the Florida English Bulldog Rescue. We’ve fostered over 30 bulldogs. So I’m very familiar with dogs and rescuing,” he said.

If you want to help with Esther’s medical costs, you can donate online at, or by mail to 1030 Pennsylvania Avenue, Palm Harbor, FL, 34683.


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