Heroes in Brown: 7 UPS Drivers Who Stepped Up to Save Animals
Around this time of year, you see them along your street almost daily. They maneuver those huge brown trucks up and down the neighborhood, delivering packages large and small to your doorstep.
What you may not know, however, is that United Parcel Service (UPS) drivers sometimes are doing much more than dropping off boxes. Some of them are saving animals’ lives.
Here are the stories of seven UPS drivers who saw animals in trouble and did something about it, even when it would have been easier to simply return to their routes:
1. The UPS Driver Who Saved a Dog from Certain Death in an Icy Pond
UPS driver Mike Remo was delivering packages in January 2010 when he pulled up into the driveway of the Kroll family. Technically he was late to this address, but it turns out he was right on time that day. The Krolls were desperately trying to get their Labrador retriever, Coby, out of an icy pond he’d just fallen into while playing with the Kroll children. “The kids were crying and calling his name, and I just thought the kids are going to watch him go under,” their mother, Julie Kroll, told WSMV.
Labrador retriever running on thin ice. Photo credit: Thinkstock
Remo wasted no time. He quickly found a ladder in the family’s garage, laid it flat on the ice, and crawled out to the thin spot where the frantic Coby had fallen through. Remo was a mere inches from the cold water and could easily have fallen in himself. Coby came to him and Remo pulled him to safety.
Remo said there was no way he could just stand by and watch the dog drown.
“My son, at night when we have worship, he prays,” Kroll said. “He thanks God for the UPS man.”
2. The UPS Driver Who Used Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation to Save a Dog
A Jack Russell terrier in New York City can be grateful that UPS driver Reynaldo Alcantara loves to watch Animal Planet on television. That fact saved the dog’s life in March 2012.
While on his delivery route in Manhattan, Alcantara pulled up to his next stop to find a dog gasping desperately for air. His owner had no idea what to do, and didn’t realize the dog had just injested a chicken bone he found on the sidewalk that was now lodged in his throat.
“When I drove up, I saw the dog choking,” Alcantara told the UPS blog. “The owner let me know the dog had something lodged in his throat, so I cupped my hands around the dog’s snout and blew air into the dog’s lungs. When the dog exhaled, out came the chicken bone.”
Resuscitation of a dog requires the rescuer to close a dog’s mouth and breathe into its nose. Not everyone would be willing to do that, but Alcantara didn’t think twice. He’s an animal lover and a volunteer with PETA and the ASPCA.
“I learned how to perform mouth-to-snout resuscitation by watching Animal Planet,”¯ Alcantra said. “I love animals, and have two dogs and two cats, so there was no hesitation. Thankfully everyone went home that day.”
3. The UPS Driver Who Saved a Great Dane from Starvation
In Indiana, on a cold January day in 2013, UPS driver Gavin Crowsley noticed as he was driving his route a painfully emaciated Great Dane tied up on a short chain without water, food or shelter. He had to stop and do something, right then and there.
Gavin Crowsley is reunited with Phoenix, the Great Dane he saved. Photo credit: "Phoenix Fighters" Facebook page
“I could see every bone in his body,” he said. “He was just lying there. I knew if that dog didn’t die from starvation, he was going to die from the weather. I didn’t want to have a confrontation, but I couldn’t just leave him there.”
Crowsley called his local Humane Society, which rescued the dog that very day. The black and white spotted Great Dane, named Phoenix, was so thin Crowsley initially thought he was a Dalmatian. Blind in one eye, deaf, with frostbitten ears, suffering from pneumonia and severe malnourishment, Phoenix weighted a heartbreaking 70 pounds when rescued.
Phoenix was reunited with his rescuer several months later, looking fit and healthy. Phoenix is in training to become a therapy dog and now even has his own Facebook page called “Phoenix Fighters.”
4. The UPS Driver Who Saved a Dog Dangling from an Apartment Window
Hector Matta was making his UPS deliveries in Boston’s South End in September 2012 when he noticed something odd. It was a dog, sort of dangling from a second story window of an apartment building.
“I just happened to make a delivery and look up and see this dog on the window shaking,” Matta told WHDH. “I just tried to do the best I could with the dog because I felt bad for him.”
The dog had apparently nosed his way out through a hole in the window’s screen and couldn’t get back inside. Matta said the dog was shivering and “hanging on for dear life.”
UPS driver Hector Matta climbs ladder to save frightened dog. Photo credit: WHDH News
Matta grabbed a ladder from a nearby construction site, leaned it against the apartment building, climbed up and pushed the dog back to safety through the hole in the screen.
Matta doesn’t see himself as a hero. “I love dogs — I love animals. It’s nothing for me, this is what I do,” he said.
5. The UPS Driver Who Saved Two Starving Horses and a Dog
An unnamed UPS driver making deliveries in Mescal, Ariz., in July 2013 couldn’t turn away from what he saw at one stop. Two horses and a dog on the rural property were obviously starving to death. They had neither water nor food. They were penned in and unable to forage for themselves. Somebody was clearly living there, but ignoring the animals’ needs.
The driver immediately called police, and it’s a good thing he did.
“This was an emergency situation,” Police Detective Robin Crehan told KGUN news. “These animals could not have continued for a substantial period of time under the conditions they were living in.”
The owner is facing three counts of felony animal cruelty charges. The dog has since been adopted, and the horses are being cared for by a rescue group. Without the UPS driver who was willing to act, they might all be dead now.
6. The UPS Driver Who Saved an Abandoned Chihuahua Tied to a Gutter
An unnamed UPS driver turned out to be a knight in shining armor in August 2009 for one defenseless little Chihuahua mix in Waterbury, Conn. The driver spotted the little dog tied to a sewer drain in the blazing summer heat in a remote industrial park. He immediately took the dog to a nearby spay and neuter clinic. The Chihuahua was obviously malnourished, dehydrated and weighed a mere 4.5 pounds when found. He was also blind in one eye. The clinic said the dog would have died had the driver not brought him in that day.
Romeo being comforted by animal control officer after rescue. Photo credit: WTNH News
“I cried, honestly,” Robin Kane of the H.O.P.E. Spay and Neuter Clinic told WTNH news. “I thought to myself ‘how on earth can somebody do this to this poor boy?’” The clinic staff named the dog Romeo and said he perked up once they gave him some loving care and got some water and food into him. It was a close call, but an anonymous UPS driver saved little Romeo’s life that day.
7. The UPS Driver Who Risked His Life To Save a Lost Dog on a Busy Freeway
UPS driver Shane Kenzig was stuck in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic near Pittsburgh, Pa., in August 2013 when he saw something that would make anyone’s heart freeze. A small, frightened cocker spaniel was wandering around on the freeway, unsure of where to go.
Several drivers called to the dog to try to get it into their cars, but it wasn’t working. Kensig couldn’t bear to let the dog get hit, so he did what nobody else would. He actually pulled off the highway, got out of his vehicle, and amid all the traffic, managed to get the dog to come to him.
“I had a dog once and it got hit by a car. I know how I felt,”¯ Kenzig told Teamster Magazine. “I didn’t know if it was some little kid’s dog and I didn’t want them to be upset when they found out their dog got hit on the parkway.”
A local TV crew happened to be a few cars ahead of Kenzig as this story unfolded, so the good deed got TV news coverage that night:
Hats off to the hard working men and women in brown. You just never know when one of them might save your best friend’s life.
"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'" -- Dave Barry