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Commack firefighters rescue puppy trapped by table

Bear, a rottweiler puppy seen in an undated

Bear, a rottweiler puppy seen in an undated photo, had to be freed by Commack firefighters after its back right paw got caught in a wrought-iron coffee table while playing at home on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Credit: Monica Wassell

A playful puppy’s paw ended up trapped and twisted in the leg of a coffee table in Commack Tuesday morning, changing his mood and forcing the Commack Fire Department into action.

Monica Wassell’s older dog Cuddles, a 7-year-old golden retriever, had been playfully chasing the 60-pound rottweiler Bear when the pup’s back right paw got wedged and twisted in the circular foot of a wrought-iron end table. After its owner tried freeing him, the frightened dog bit her.

“Bear is a new puppy and quite rambunctious, so they were chasing each other and all of a sudden as I was lying in bed I hear yelping,” said Wassell, 51, of Commack. “I tried to free his paw, but he was so scared he bit my hand. It was painful to watch him panic.”

Wassell then called the Commack Fire Department for help at 7:52 a.m. Five minutes later, First Assistant Chief Andrew Babajko, 30-year veteran firefighter Glenn Stapleton and other firefighters, along with police, arrived to help.

Babajko, who has been with the department 19 years, said that when they arrived the puppy wouldn’t stop crying, and every time they got close to Bear he would growl at them.

“All kinds of mayhem was going on when we arrived,” said Babajko, 48, of Commack. “It was not a happy dog. We cut off the leg of the table as close as we could get to Bear.”

As a safety precaution, Babajko and Stapleton placed a blanket over Bear’s head while Wassell held him down and the two firefighters used a manually operated hydraulic brake pedal cutter -- normally used to cut hardened steel brake pedals in car accidents -- to free the puppy.

“They were phenomenal and calm and they knew exactly what to do,” Wassell said.

Wassell then rushed Bear to Commack Emergency Animal Hospital. Because its paw had swelled up inside an iron ring from the table still wrapped around its paw, the firefighters were called to the hospital to remove it with a whizzer saw while the dog was sedated.

“I felt bad for the dog being in that predicament, but I knew what we had to do,” Babajko said. “We were happy we could help the dog and there was a happy ending.”

Wassell referred to the rescue as a miracle and couldn’t thank the firefighters enough.

“I thought for sure his leg would be broken, but his paw was just a little swollen,” she said. “When you look at him now, you never would’ve known anything happened. At the end of the day, the dog wasn’t even limping. I’m glad everything’s OK now. Bear’s OK.”

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