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Complaint filed over failure to help dogs

Published: Thu, February 3, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.


Special to the Vindicator

Lonnie Kolat sits with Diesel, his male laborador retriever, who is recovering at the Kolat home from hypothermia. Diesel and Kolat’s female laborador retriever, Savannah, both 5 years old, fell into an opening in a neighbor’s pond Jan. 25, and Savannah drowned. At the request of the Brookfield Township police and fire chiefs, the director of the Trumbull County 911 dispatch center is conducting an investigation into why dispatchers didn’t ask the Brookfield Fire Department to respond to the pond after a caller alerted dispatchers to the problem.

By Ed Runyan



Ernie Cook, Trumbull County 911 director, is investigating a complaint filed by Brookfield Township’s police and fire chiefs over the failure of two 911 dispatchers to send the Brookfield Fire Department to a call involving two dogs.

The dogs had fallen into the icy waters of a backyard pond. One of the 5-year-old yellow Labrador retrievers eventually slipped under the water and drowned. The 911 caller saved the other dog on his own by laying a ladder onto the ice and pulling the dog to safety.

The surviving dog, Diesel, is being treated for hypothermia.

The owner of the dogs, Lonnie Kolat of 833 Warner Road, said he was driving home from work at 2:45 p.m. Jan. 25, when his neighbor, Wayne Yurak, discovered Kolat’s dogs in Yurak’s pond and called 911. The two men live a couple of houses from each other.

Yurak told the 911 dispatcher there were two dogs trapped in the middle of his pond.

“I run an aerator all winter long on my pond, so there’s an open spot out there of clear water, and there’s no ice in it,” Yurak said. The dispatcher promised to “see what we can have somebody do.”

According to 911 records, the dispatcher typed into the dispatching computer: “2 dogs trapped on ice, not his.”

At 3:01 p.m., the female dog, Savannah, slipped under the water, and Yurak called 911 again, this time getting a different dispatcher.

Yurak asked the dispatcher, “Is somebody coming or not, because one just drowned,” according to the complaint filed with the county 911 by Police Chief Daniel Faustino and Fire Chief Keith Barrett.

The second dispatcher responded by saying, “You said one of them is now in the water?”

Yurak repeated that one had drowned and the other one was nearly drowned from fatigue.

The second dispatcher said she was going to alert the police department and said the delay in responding was because the police department was handling a domestic-violence call.

“I don’t think I need police. I need firemen to go out and rescue these dogs off the ice,” Yurak said.

By the time the first Brookfield police officer arrived at 3:08 p.m., Yurak had already rescued the second dog. The fire department was never called.

Cook said the first dispatcher put the dog call into a “queue,” as in a waiting position until officers were through with the domestic- violence call, because the dog call was listed as “animal complaint,” which is a lower priority than domestic violence.

“What I want to know is why [the first dispatcher] didn’t get on the phone and call the fire department,” Cook said.

As for the second dispatcher, she didn’t call the fire department because she believed it was the police department’s decision whether the call should be handled by police officers or firefighters, Cook said.

There is no specific rule for who makes that decision, Cook said: Sometimes it’s made by the dispatcher, sometimes by a police officer.

Kolat said the Countryside Veterinary service in Kinsman took extraordinary measures to save Diesel’s life, and Yurak is a hero for pulling him from the pond.

But Kolat is concerned that his neighbor was placed in such a dangerous position.

“I don’t want to see the ball dropped again,” Kolat said. “I lost something great deep in my heart, but I think there might be a value of human life here, too. That’s the important thing.”


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Awful the dog died. Dispatchers screwed up. Why wasn't owner with dogs to see what was happening and keep them from going on ice in the first place?

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2ojanet22(134 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Poor dogs paid for human error. Will the owner ever recover Savannah's body?

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3YSUPenguin(30 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

That dispatcher is an idiot and should be fired. The dogs were not on the ice, they were in the water so I have no idea why someone would type that into the computer. Both dogs could have been saved if this moron would have listened to what the called said and done something about it.

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4southsidedave(5185 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Poor little doggies

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5Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, the dog owner shares in this responsibility. However, the dispatcher should have, out of some common sense, called both the police and fire dept. Then hopefully, since the police couldn't take the call, the fire dept. could have done it. And as was stated, what if this had been a human life instead of just a 'mere' animal. This dispatcher maybe should not be fired but should be disciplined with time off with no pay and it really sounds like this dispatcher needs to be retrained. And let's get this put in their training manual IF there is such a thing. And another thing, Terryz34, these animals probably were NOT mean dogs and the neighbors probably knew both dogs very well. Sounds like you are a city boy. Yes, I know the leash law extends to everyone but maybe in this case, everyone loved these two dogs and didn't mind their running loose. No, that doesn't make it right but I can tell you have very little, if any, compassion for animals. I don't wish you bad luck but I do wish you bad neighbors!!!!!

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6lilgandee(103 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps the dogs got loose while he was at work. It is sad that had to happen to Savannah. The one could have been trying 2 save the other. I know that people feel it necessary to kick a man while he's down but I am soory for your loss, sir. I lost my dog little less than a year ago, she cimbed the kenne ate a duck whole then threw it up and it punctured her. It is awful but I had animal lovers who understood the pain.

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