Amid the devastation left in the wake of the tornadoes that ripped through central and western Massachusetts on Wednesday, a state trooper has brought a measure of joy to a family in one of the hardest hit towns.
State Police said in a statement that Trooper Brian Pearl rescued a 25-pound, dark brown Shar-Pei-Chow mix puppy from a collapsed home on Stewart Avenue in Monson on Saturday morning, three days after high winds sucked the dog from its home on a nearby street.
Pearl, 37, said in a phone interview today that he was on a looting prevention patrol when a woman on the street "waving frantically at me" prompted him to exit his cruiser. He said the woman told him she could hear a dog barking and whimpering under a collapsed roof nearby.
"You could see the dog had buried itself way in the debris under the roof," said Pearl, an 11-year veteran of the force. "He clearly didn't want to come out. He was petrified."
After neighbors failed to lure the dog out with food, Pearl said he retrieved a long pole from his cruiser used to rescue animals and crawled under the roof, hoping to corral the puppy in a loop at the end of the device. He wore elbow and kneepads to protect himself from the sharp objects that lined his path to the dog.
"There [were] nails, there was stuff everywhere," Pearl said. "All kinds of debris."
He said he was not hurt by the debris and pulled the dog out after it repeatedly slipped from the loop. Once freed, he said, the puppy, later identified as Shadow, went from a state of terror to one of elation.
"He was wagging his tail like crazy," Pearl said. "Once he came out, he was licking my hand ... he was laughing like crazy."
Pearl said the neighbors knew Shadow's owners, who live near the rescue site on an adjacent street. He said the owners, one of whom State Police identified as Audrey Carabetta, were soon reunited with Shadow, when a Monson police officer brought the dog to their home.
Pearl said he later saw the family in their driveway and watched as their other dog, an adult purebred Shar-Pei, bounded toward Shadow. "You could tell the dogs were happy to see each other," he said.
Pearl said Carabetta hugged him and that the whole family was thrilled to find Shadow alive. He said the family had been unable to bring Shadow down to their basement when the storm hit.
"They could hear [Shadow] barking" during the storm, he said.
Pearl said he was glad to rescue Shadow and provide a ray of hope to a family whose home was badly damaged, like nearly every home in the neighborhood.
"That's part of what we're doing out here, helping out the residents," he said. "Even something simple like that, it made my day, and it made their day."
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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