ROSSFORD — A dog that survived a watery, icy car crash that took her human family members’ lives is recovering well in a foster home with her canine sibling.
Olivia, a 2 or 3-year-old “pit bull,” was riding in the family car Dec. 26 when it went off the side of Metzger Marsh Road — near the Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area and the Cooley Canal Yacht Club — and overturned into a frozen canal.
Her owners, Joshua and Kimberly Cassady, died in the crash, which also killed Mr. Cassady’s stepfather, James Landeru. All three lived in a home in the 100 block of Hausman Street in Toledo.
Tony Parasiliti, chief of the Jerusalem Township Fire Department, said rescuers discovered Olivia alive and still inside the vehicle after firefighters used a winch to turn it right-side up. She had evidently been trapped in an air pocket.
“When we flipped the car over, the dog made [herself] present at the window,” the chief said, noting she had not barked or otherwise made any sound.
The chief said Olivia was obviously very cold, wet, and scared. Authorities do not know how long the car had been in the water because no one witnessed the accident, which was reported by a passer-by who saw the overturned vehicle.
The dog wasn’t aggressive and didn’t resist her rescuers when they placed her in the back of a heated truck.
“At one point, I entered the vehicle to check on her,” Chief Parasiliti said. “She just backed away and whimpered in the corner.”
The chief said the dog defecated on his turnout gear that was stored in the truck, but he didn’t worry about it.
“She was terrified,” he said. “I was just happy she was alive.”
Lucas County Canine Care & Control took Olivia to its shelter. On Dec. 28, the shelter also took in 10-year-old Shih Tzu mix Daisy, who had been owned by Mr. Landeru and was found in the empty home on Hausman Street.
The county shelter transferred both dogs to Planned Pethood on Dec. 30 after a relative living in North Dakota could not make other arrangements. Olivia, in particular, was struggling in the shelter environment.
“She was terrified to be in there and not doing well,” said Theresa Grimes, dog intake coordinator for the rescue. “When they brought Daisy in, that seemed to help but they couldn’t be kenneled together. [Olivia] was really shut down.”
Karen Brown of Rossford has fostered the pair in her home. Both were treated for fleas, and Olivia had some skin irritation on her rear end that has been healing well. Daisy is recovering from surgery that removed a very large bladder stone.
“She’s way more comfortable now,” Ms. Brown said. “When she first got here, you could tell she was in pain.”
Mrs. Grimes said there’s no way to know what the family’s situation was before the crash that may have led to the dogs’ medical needs. Both were otherwise in good condition.
Daisy has been calm and quiet in Ms. Brown’s home while she is recovering. Olivia calmed almost immediately after leaving the shelter and has settled in well. Neither dog seems to display any obvious signs of mental or emotional trauma from their ordeal, nor has Olivia shown any lingering effects from being submerged in icy water.
Olivia enjoys looking out the living room window and has taken on the task of watching over the house.
“She lets us know when somebody’s going down the street,” Ms. Brown said.
Even after the crash, the dog doesn’t seem afraid of getting into a car.
“I’ve taken her a couple of places, and she jumps right in,” Ms. Brown said.
Chief Parasiliti said he is happy at least one life was saved after such a horrifying accident.
“We don’t often get to hear what happens afterward,” he said. “It’s great to hear [Olivia is] doing well.”
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