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WATCH: Sled dog safe after cold, and half-naked, rescue in Richmond

WATCH ABOVE: Video courtesy of Melissa Franco

VANCOUVER – A Richmond animal control officer didn’t hesitate in ripping off his shirt late Wednesday afternoon and diving into the cold Fraser River to rescue man’s best friend.

It all started when animal control officer Shane Burnham received a call that a dog was on the loose and running into traffic in Richmond. Melissa Franco, who is a volunteer at the Richmond Animal Protection Society, (RAPS), was with Burnham when the call came in and they checked out the last known sighting.

When they arrived, an RCMP officer was already on scene but the dog was not going to be caught easily.

“He was going in traffic, this animal was going 40/km an hour,” said Franco.

Another bylaw officer, Steffan Zamzow, was called in to help, along with another RCMP officer, Maria Klokotzky.

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The dog, who is a husky-cross, finally made his way down to River Road and the Richmond Night Market and all five people tried to corral him up the bank towards the van.

“We didn’t want him to go into the water but he was so scared,” said Franco.

The dog jumped into the water and that is when Zamzow jumped into action.

The dog had become caught between two logs so Zamzow had to pull him out. “He just like ripped his shirt off and jumped into the water,” said Franco.

He was soon joined by RCMP officer Const. Alex Arias and animal control officer Burnham and all three brought the dog safely back on to dry land.

“I was just like this has to go on the news because everyone came together and he’s shirtless,” laughed Franco.

They named the dog Alex after Arias. The dog did have an injury to his front paw but other than being tired, is going to be OK.

“The dog was just exhausted and he almost got killed like three times,” said Franco.

WATCH: Steffan Zamzow on the Morning News:

Turns out, ‘Alex’s’ real name is Altai and he’s a sled dog.

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His French owners were travelling with him up to the Northwest Territories and he had only been in Canada for one day when he escaped. He has now been reunited with his owners and the other members of the 15-dog team.

“[Altai] was really happy to see them and it was really sweet,” said Franco of the reunion.

PHOTOS courtesy of Melissa Franco:

From left, Alex, Steffan Zamzow and Shane Burnham.
From left, Alex, Steffan Zamzow and Shane Burnham. Melissa Franco
Reunited with his owners.
Reunited with his owners.

This is not the first time Const. Arias rescued an animal.  On Aug. 29 he saved a goat running in traffic on Williams and No. 4 road in Richmond. The goat was also reunited with its owner.

Cst-Arias with goat