http://www.courier-journal.com/article/ ... rom+bridge
By Jere Downs and Jessie Halladay • email@example.com • July 27, 2009
A day after plummeting 80 feet from the Clark Memorial Bridge into the Ohio River, “Sunny” the pit bull showed no signs of distress Monday apart from a swollen belly.
A white Chevy Malibu had stopped on the bridge in the southbound lanes, moments before Sunny's plunge, said Kelsey Westbrook, the Joe's Crab Shack server who took in the pooch and named her.
Sunny's enlarged belly and protuberant nipples suggest she recently gave birth, she added.
“A person threw her over,” the University of Louisville senior said, “I guess somebody used her to breed and didn't want to take care of her anymore.”
Workers at Joe's Crab Shack were still talking Monday about the smacking sound Sunny made when she belly flopped onto the water after 4 p.m.
“It sounded like something hitting a wall,” restaurant server Bradley Cooper, 22, said of the noise that turned heads. “It was very, very loud.”
Westbrook and two other servers raced to the riverside to shout encouragement to the dog as it swam in circles a half mile way. At the sound of their voices, she said, the dog paddled toward them on the Kentucky side of the river. Louisville firefighters preparing for dive team training went out with their boat to get her some 20 feet from shore.
“I wanted to give her some hope, to let her know somebody was waiting for her,” Westbrook said. “I was afraid she would give up and drown.”
Diners erupted into applause as the dog, tail wagging, emerged from the skiff on a leash fashioned from nautical line, Cooper said.
“I was crying so hard, it was crazy,” Westbrook said. “I was ready to jump in the water and go after her.”
At riverside, Sunny scarfed down three hamburgers and lapped water from a crab bucket before going home to Westbrook's Old Louisville apartment. There, the dog wolfed down five cups of Pedigree dog food.
“I laid with her and rubbed her belly for a while,” Westbrook said. “I am sure the fall for her was really painful.”
“It could not have been good for her,” said Louisville fire Capt. Troy Graviss, who pulled the dog from the Ohio's currents. “Her tail was wagging. She was licking us.”
Sunny's survival surprised Jackie Gulbe, the spokeswoman for Metro Animal Services. The manner of her disposal did not.
“We still live in a throw-away society. People have that attitude toward their pets,” Gulbe said, adding some 30,000 animals each year are found stray, dead, or wander their way to animal shelters.
Pit bulls account for one in four of 16,000 animals each year that arrive at the Metro Animal Services shelter in Shively, Gulbe said. The shelter turns no breed of animal away. Some animals are euthanized for lack of a good home. Others, including some pit bulls, are not fit for adoption.
“We take everything, but we can't save them all,” Gulbe said. Pit bulls, she added “are a stylish breed, like an accessory,” that some owners soon tire of.
Sunny appears less than two years old, Westbrook said. The red pit bull with a white chest quickly befriended Nala, the two-year-old German Shepherd mix Westbrook said she adopted from a private shelter.
Without a backyard for Sunny to play in, Westbrook added she would like to help her find another home.
“I took the dog because I just wanted to help her,” the English literature major said. “I don't ever want her to feel pain again.”
Reporter Jere Downs can be reached at (502) 582-4669