6 min read

Cops Lift Car Off Injured Dog In The Middle Of Highway Traffic

"He was super calm, and I think he knew I was there to help.”

Every now and then, in a time of need, the right person arrives at just the right time — and something amazing happens.

This was the case on Wednesday morning when a lost bloodhound named Ruger found himself trapped on Northern California’s Highway 80 in the midst of rush-hour traffic. Deputy Stanislav Semenuk, a K-9 handler for the Placer County Sheriff's Department, happened to be behind the wheel when he saw an animal dart across lanes of eastbound traffic.

“I stopped immediately, and turned the lights on to try and get traffic to slow down,” Semenuk told The Dodo. “I got out of the car and tried to call him over to me. You could tell the poor pup was terrified.”

As cars began to slow on the highway, the dog got spooked and bolted back into traffic — this time with tragic results. Ruger collided with a passing car.

Placer County Sheriff’s Office

“It was hard. When I saw the impact, I thought, ‘This dog is not going to make it,’ because it happened right in front of me,” Semenuk said. “I thought, ‘There’s no way, there’s no way this dog is going to come out of this alive.’”  

Ruger was pinned under the front bumper, but the car didn’t stop, and the front tire rolled over his paw, trapping him underneath the vehicle. Semenuk ran across the lanes and told the driver to stop the car and put it in park.

Luckily, backup was already serendipitously on its way. “At that point, an off-duty [California highway patrol] officer sees what’s happening, and pulls over,” Semenuk explained. “He asks if we need some help. And I say, ‘Yeah, we have to get this car off of this dog.’”

Placer County Sheriff's Office

The officer grabbed a jack from his truck, and the two set to work lifting the vehicle off the pinned dog. As the car rose, Ruger’s cries and whimpers reached a crescendo, and Semenuk fashioned a makeshift collar from a leash he had on him and put on his gloves, preparing for the worst.

“I figured, ‘Hey, this dog’s in a lot of pain, he doesn’t know me. I’m probably going to get bit right now,’” Semenuk explained. “But he didn’t do that, he was super calm, and I think he knew I was there to help.”

Placer County Sheriff's Office

“The dog was awesome,” Semenuk added. “He was a good boy, and let me touch him, pick him up and take him off the highway.” Motorists found the scene surreal, watching from behind their windshields as one officer jacked up a car in the middle of a busy road, and the other rushed to the shoulder cradling a wounded dog in his arms.

Semenuk waited with the dog, speaking calmly to him and comforting him the best he could until help arrived. Animal control rushed the pup to a nearby emergency veterinary clinic, where he was treated for swelling, lacerations and road rash, but, shockingly, no broken bones.

Placer County Sheriff's Office

After the harrowing rescue, Semenuk couldn’t forget the scared dog. “I called the vet clinic later that night, and said, ‘Hey, did the owners show up? Are they going to pay for his treatment?’ I followed up because if they weren’t going to do it, we were going to do it,” Semenuk said. “He’s just a young puppy and a super good dog.”

Happily, that wasn’t necessary, and the puppy has since been reunited with his owners.

How the dog managed to survive such an impact with barely a scratch is in a big part thanks to the cops' heroic efforts.

“He’s going to be A-OK,” Semenuk added happily.