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Happy update: Dog swept away days ago in Smith Rock canal turns up safe in Terrebonne

Finn dog found Facebook
A search for a dog swept away in a canal at Smith Rock ended happily on Saturday

(Update: Finn found on Hwy. 97, owner to return for reunion)

German shepherd's owner says Finn was off-leash, drinking water, and got sucked into current.

TERREBONNE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A German shepherd who was swept away in an irrigation canal at Smith Rock State Park on Tuesday has been found and is being reunited with his owners.

Finn was found running near Highway 97 on the north end of Terrebonne around 7 a.m. Saturday, a Facebook posting said.

The poster, seeking information regarding the owners, said the dog "was scared and seems under-weight but is very sweet." He had a collar but no ID, but Facebook users helped make the connection. The posting said the owners were returning to the area from Washington state, for a no-doubt happy reunion.

Still, the fortunate outcome to days of searching for Finn doesn't lessen the message shared earlier in the week by Smith Rock State Park Manager Matt Davey, to keep pets safe. 

"If you're bringing your dog to Smith Rock State Park, we really, really strongly encourage you to keep that dog on a leash at all times,” Davey said Wednesday. 

Kadie Brown said she was visiting from Seattle on Tuesday when she and her mother went hiking at Smith Rock.

Brown made a call no dog owner wants to make and reported to the Pet Evacuation Team that her German shepherd, Finn, was swept away in an irrigation canal near Wolf Tree Trail.

She said Finn was off-leash, drinking water, and got sucked into the fast-moving water.

Davey said the park, in conjunction with the Pet Evacuation Team of Redmond, has a number of signs warning about this issue.

"If your dog is off-leash, it can naturally want to get into the water right there," he said.

Davey said this same issue has occurred before, with some dogs surviving, and others not, 

He said it occurs at most once a year, but it typically happens on extremely hot days, when dogs are trying to cool off.

Davey said whether it's the slower-moving Crooked River or the fast current in the canal, the on-leash rule is there for a reason.

"Don't let your dog off-leash,” Davey repeated. “There's more hazards than just the canal."

The canal would have taken Finn through a mile-long tunnel underneath Staender Ridge.

Davey said Finn would then have a 30- to 50-yard span past Burma Road, where he could have gotten out of the canal before going into another tunnel. 

Davey said Wednesday that if Finn was a strong swimmer, there was a chance he made it out alive and was in the Sherman Canyon area, looking for help.

"Start calling for your dog, look for the wet footprints, and a lot of time your dog will come running,” Davey said. “They'll make it out of the canal."

However, if it missed that window, Davey explained that the canal then goes through a tunnel and a syphon, before leading out to the Culver/Madras area.

"Once it gets into that syphon, it's tough for a dog to hold its breath long enough to ride through that syphon and emerge on the other side of Sherwood Canyon.

Davey also urged those who find your dog caught not to jump in after it -- and risk your own life.

"And if something does go wrong and your dog does get swept into that canal, reaching out to park staff, we can help identify where the location would be to search for your dog,” Davey said. 

Brown and Smith Rock rangers are still searching, and they ask anyone in the Sherman Canyon/Ranch at the Canyons/Terrebonne area to reach out if they spot the German shepherd. 

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.



    1. Agreed. What would have happened if the pup got in trouble in the Autonomous zone where it is from. Would the animal rescue team of entered? Would they have been safe?

  1. Unfortunately this is so often a lesson learned via tragic circumstance. I remember a young man drowning in the NUID Main Canal at Madras because his dogs were unable to escape the current while swimming in the canal.

  2. I feel badly for both the dog and the owner. What a horrible thing to have happen to your pet. The entire park has a leash law, which seems to be more routinely ignored on Wolf Tree trail in my experience. However, leashes are not required on the adjacent BLM land and it is not very clear where the boundary is between SMSP and BLM. I think most folks assume leashes are not required once they are on Burma Road next to the canal, believing they are outside the park. I hope additional signage will help dog owners understand the danger of the canal and keep their dogs safely leashed.

  3. Jumped into the river last summer when my pup slipped in on a not so trodden path. Always seems safe until they can’t swim back. Better to leash up than lose your best friend.

    1. Unnecessary unless it’s your driveway being blocked, mailbox and/or fence damaged by hit and run, or lawn needing repair and reseeding due to tire ruts. Or absorbing the cost of having vehicle-stopping boulders brought in. Sorry, but there are costs to being a scofflaw. Sometimes justice prevails and the scofflaws pay the price. But more often than not, the price is paid fully by a victim.

      1. Haha. There are laws against driveways being blocked, mailboxes and fences being damaged and trespassing on your lawn. You self-righteous scumbags just didn’t want cars parked in front of your property, so you had the 3 stooges on the commission make street parking illegal. One of them is now gone and the other two will be out in 2022. That’s the price of pandering to the privileged.

  4. Hope this sweet boy has crawled out of the canal and is looking for his family. Miracles do happen.
    This is just heart breaking! He looks like by old boy Beau.

  5. Just because you can afford a dog, doesn’t mean you should have one. You buy a pretty collar, but no name tags? You don’t leash them where you are supposed to? You don’t pay attention and keep your dog out of dangerous canals? Maybe you should sell that dog to someone capable of shouldering the responsibility of pet ownership. Or learn how to be responsible. I’m glad the dog made it out ok. Think about it on your drive back home.

    1. Debated allowing the inevitable armchair-QB judges. Close call, but cannot allow such without a response. The owner is from out of the area. Perhaps the tag was lost in the canal, or the dog was microchipped. Maybe they didn’t see the signs. I sincerely hope you never make a serious mistake, tragic or otherwise, in your life – and that if you do, the “judges” of the world spare you any added pain.

      1. This event serves as a warning for others who do not use an @inffirmed choice” approach to pet ownership. If you are not from an area, size up the environment and the terrain with your pet on a leash. Once you have confirmed the safety of the area for not only your pet, but also other pets and other humans in the area and you have confirmed it is a permitted leash free zone, then you can make that decision to remove the leash. Would be helpful to know what amount of personnel hours by first responders and other governmental agencies was used to resolve this lack of “informed choice”.

        1. We don’t report that on human search and rescues, either, because they respond to the “bill them!” crowd with issues such as people then getting into more serious trouble before seeking help, thus putting those volunteers (and yes, a few staff) in greater danger as a result.

              1. Unfortunately, comments are not data. Thus we have taxpayer funded activities to prevent human-triggered events (such as lack of leash on a dog in an unfamiliar area) and we have no way of knowing if local taxpayers are paying for preventable responses. Luckily, the dog was safe, but hopefully the event is in the local 911 database so KTVZ can do a proper FOIA investigation.

      2. Rereading that, it does come across harsher than I intended. I feel pretty strongly about responsible pet ownership. When you take ownership of a pet, that life is your control. You need to protect it and keep it from harm’s way the best you can. Perhaps the dog’s name tags just came off, perhaps they came off a long time ago. Perhaps they were never there. Name tags on collars work best when they are riveted on, not just hanging.

  6. Great news that the dog made it out. many years ago, I lost a dog for a week in the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico. He ran off chasing after some deer. I spent over 20 hours looking for him with no luck. I came back a week later just in case he was still around. I woke up in the morning and looked across the camp and there he stood. About ten pounds lighter but super happy to see me. That dog never would touch a Milkbone dog biscuit, but that morning he ate the whole box. I am very happy to hear this dog made it out.

  7. Now enforce the rules, instead of your weak-willed suggestion to “really strongly encourage you to keep that dog on a leash at all time.”

    1. Agreed, we are seeing way too many irresponsible pet owners in Central Oregon. A hefty fine sends a strong message sends a strong sign.

  8. Glad the dog is ok and will be reunited with its owner. That said, what the heck good does a dang collar fo with no identification on it? They make brass tags that can be riveted to the collar. No jingling, no falling off, no catching on things, no excuse. Brighten up, a collar is worthless without ID.

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