Emergency vets beat the odds to save brave puppy

A puppy miraculously survived plunging more than 40 feet from a bridge into a frozen river.

Owner Phil Hobbins, from Prestwick, Ayrshire, feared the worst when he saw 11-month-old Monty vanish into the River Ayr. But he waded into the water to reach his pet who had crashed through the ice before scrambling to a ledge.

He rushed the seriously injured dog to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in Kilmarnock where he was told his chances of survival were slim. But senior vet Simon Patchett and his team battled the odds to save Monty, using transfusions of the dog’s own blood to keep him alive.

Image of Monty the dog lying on the floor for Vets Now article on dog fell from bridge
11-month-old Monty fell off a 40ft bridge into the River Ayr ©Vets Now

Phil was on a family lockdown walk at Auchincruive Estate when Monty, a Lagotto Romagnolo, dashed towards the 19th Century Oswald’s bridge.

“There are no cars and it’s a rural walk, so we didn’t think anything of it,” said Phil. “But it was frosty and when he jumped up to have a look at the water, he skidded and fell over the edge.

“He dropped at least 40 feet on to the ice and went through into the water.

“That should be a fatal fall and if he’d went over the middle section, where it was quite rocky below, it would have been. But he went over at an end where there was ice and water, which must have given him a chance.”

“I’d started running the instant he’d gone over, and I was in a blind panic. When I slid down the slope, I was amazed to see he’d somehow got on to a ledge on one of the bridge supports. I could see he was shivering and shocked and I knew I had to get to him.”

Image of Oswald's Bridge for Vets Now article on dog fell from bridge
Monty fell from Oswald's Bridge while out on a walk (copyright -commons.wikimedia.orgwikiUserRosser1954)

Phil plunged into the water up to his chest, breaking through the ice to get across the river and reach Monty and carry him back to the bank, helped by some passers-by.

Realising his pet was obviously seriously injured and struggling to breathe after the fall, Phil and his family made the 15-mile dash to Vets Now in Kilmarnock.

It’s one of our nationwide chain of more than 60 hospitals and clinics open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.

“Panic had really set in because his breathing was so shallow and slow,” said Phil. “We were all upset and scared and the nurse took one look, picked him up and sprinted inside with him.”

An initial assessment quickly established the life-threatening extent of Monty’s injuries.

Image of Monty the dog looking at the camera for Vets Now article on dog fell from river
Monty's owner Phil rescued him from the icy water and rushed him to Vets Now Kilmarnock ©Vets Now

“His gums were white, and his chest sounds were very abnormal. We did an X-ray and ultrasound scan and found he had significant internal bleeding,” said vet Simon.

“His chest was filling up with large amounts of blood and air, restricting his ability to breathe and we had to urgently deal with that.

“We placed drains into his chest, removed the blood that was building up and transfused this blood back into his veins.”

This auto-transfusion procedure gave Monty a fighting chance, but Phil was aware that the prognosis was guarded.

The distraught family had several worrying days as Monty’s condition stabilised and then gradually improved.

Image of Monty the dog leaving the vet with his owner for Vets Now article on dog fell from bridge
The team battled to save his life and against the odds, Monty survived ©Vets Now

“We were absolutely shattered and in disbelief that a freak accident on a nice walk had left our dog at death’s door,” added Phil.

“But somehow he got stronger and four days later we were told we could get him home. When we picked him up, he was wagging his tail and full of beans.

“It was so emotional. He’s a big part of our family and he’s kept us busy throughout lockdown.

“It’s an absolute miracle that he survived the fall that should have killed him. And we know he wouldn’t be with us now if it wasn’t for Simon. We’ll never be able to thank him enough for what he did.”

“And thanks, too, to those who stopped to helped and the brilliant team at Dalblair Vets for Monty’s after-care.”

Image of Monty the dog lying on his bed wearing a cone for Vets Now article on dog fell from bridge
Phil is grateful to everyone involved in saving Monty ©Vets Now

All of Vets Now’s premises always have a vet and vet nurse on site.

We also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, like Monty’s, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.

If your pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, we will refund the online consultation fee, so you never pay twice.