Emergency vets save life of four-year-old Sheera who was suffering hypothermia

A dog was brought back from the brink by our emergency vets – after getting trapped in a freezing swimming pool for SIX HOURS.

German Shepherd Sheera disappeared chasing a rabbit while on her usual late afternoon walk with owner Sue Mitchell.

Sue called and searched for Sheera, who is a rescue dog, but began to panic when she didn’t come back. She called her partner Lammy to come and help and to bring a torch as it was beginning to get dark.

Agonisingly, they could hear a dog barking in the distance but just couldn’t work out where the noise was coming from. Getting more and more worried by the minute, Sue retraced her steps home in case Sheera had found her own way back.

But there was no sign of her at home either so Sue posted an anxious message on the village Facebook page in Bovingdon, Herts, asking locals to keep an eye out for her.

Image of Sheera the German shepherd for Vets Now blog post on a dog surviving being trapped in a swimming pool
Thankfully, it only took a few days for Sheera to recover from her ordeal

The response was tremendous and groups of well-wishers went out to join the search.

Sue and some of the searchers began knocking on doors close to Bovingdon golf course where Sheera had disappeared.

There was no reply at the first house but at the second, just as Sue was asking at the door if it was okay to search their grounds, she heard a shout from her friend Karen.

Karen and her dog Homer had found Sheera in an uncovered wooden swimming pool sunk into the ground in the gardens of the house.

Sheera was padding desperately on the surface to stay afloat and get herself to safety. But the pool was only half full, meaning that the water line was so low that poor Sheera, who weighs 30kg, was trapped.

This was at 10.30pm – and Sheera had been missing since 4.30pm.

First, Karen reached down and hauled out hypothermic Sheera from the ice-cold water using her dog harness to grab her.

Then another of the searchers, called Gary, rang home to ask his wife to get towels and hot water ready and Sue walked with Sheera to the road to get collected.

But poor Sheera, exhausted and frozen, just collapsed on the spot. Sue said: “Sheera was so cold she was on the brink of death. I really think that even another five minutes in the pool and she would have drowned.

“She’d scraped her legs between the paws and elbows, which scabbed. She was traumatised, really frightened and had given all her energy to trying to save her life. It was awful to see her in that state.”

She called Lammy who dashed down with towels and blankets.

Sue drove Sheera to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in nearby Hemel Hempstead, with Lammy sat in the back rubbing Sheera dry and trying somehow to get her warmed up.

Image of German shepherd for Vets Now article on dog with hypothermia
Sue drove Sheera to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in nearby Hemel Hempstead

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When Vets Now emergency vet Michelle Dawson took her temperature it was just 32°C (90°F) — more than 6°C (11°F) below normal.

She was placed on an electric heatpad to warm up her body, with warm air blowing on her fur. Gradually she began to perk up and her temperature increased by more than 2°C (3.6°F) within 15 minutes.

Michelle said it’s unlikely Sheera would have survived had she not been so young and fit.

She said: “Sheera’s temperature was dangerously low when she arrived at our clinic. She had also bitten her tongue and had wounds on her left dewclaw. Thankfully though, her condition improved as our vet and vet nurse slowly warmed her up.

“Everyone at Vets Now Hemel Hempstead is so pleased to hear she’s back to full health. But her case shows just how dangerous hazards like swimming pools and ponds can be for dogs, especially if they’re left uncovered over winter.”

After two hours she was well enough for Sue to take her home – still wrapped in blankets but able to stand up on her own.

Sue, who works as a therapist, said: “When Sheera was missing I was just beside myself with worry.

“We adopted her when she was about nine months old from a small charity called German Shepherd Rescue South where everyone involved is a volunteer. She’d been abandoned by her owners and ended up in the dog pound in Limerick in Ireland. If she hadn’t been adopted she would have had to be put down.

“When you’ve got a rescue dog who’s already been through a distressing life you feel doubly bad when they are in pain.

“When we were looking for her, the more we called her name, the louder she barked and cried. My friend was blowing the same whistle we use to call Sheera so she knew we were looking for her. It was desperately upsetting.

“Where we found her was a mile and half from where we’d first heard the barking – that’s how much noise she made.

Image of Sheera the German shepherd for Vets Now blog post on dog suffering hypothermia after falling into a swimming pool
Four-year-old Sheera ran off during her walk and was found six hours later trapped in a swimming pool

“She’s such a clever dog – and a brilliant companion, I couldn’t imagine life without her.

“We’ve had German Shepherds before, and our last German Shepherd died in an awful car crash after the person walking him ignored what he’d been told and let him off the lead in a non-enclosed area near a road.

“That was three years ago and we were distraught, and that’s one of the reasons why losing Sheera would have been so horrendous. She helped me keep my sanity, so the thought of Sheera dying as well was just too much to bear.

“Fortunately, it only took a day or two at home for her to make a full recovery – and to look at her now you’d think nothing had ever happened.

“A dog is always going to want to chase after a rabbit – but we’ve learned now to only let her off the lead in enclosed fields or places where she won’t be able to get lost!

“The staff at Vets Now were so kind and the number of people who came out to help look for Sheera was just amazing.”

The Vets Now clinic in Hemel Hempstead — where Sheera received treatment — was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It’s one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

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