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Ducks land Sparky in hot water: Marine vet thankful for Mesa officer who pulled dog out of canal

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John Tenaglia, right, speaks with Mesa officer Robert Goodrich on Tuesday, Aug. 8 at Mesa Police Department headquarters. (Steve Burks/MyNewsMesa.com)

Nothing was going to keep Sparky from going after those ducks, but his chase ended quickly and the 11-year old whippet/Shar-Pei mix found himself swimming in the canal.

Sparky, an 11-year old whippet/Shar-Pei mix dog, hides behind his owner, John Tenaglia, during a press conference on Aug. 8 at the Mesa Police Department headquarters. (Steve Burks/MyNewsMesa.com)

“We were on our morning walk,” said Sparky’s owner, John Tenaglia of Mesa. “We just moved from Gilbert, so we were trying to find new areas to go in the mornings. This area had a fence and a grass area, so I thought we were safe. But we came to the end of the fence and he saw the ducks and didn’t see the water and I just heard a splash.

“I thought he was washed down the canal. I already said my goodbye prayer.”

His walk began in the grass area just south of HoHoKam Park and once in the canal, Sparky ended up drifting approximately 500 meters west, where a jogger saw the dog and after trying to reach him and get him out, called police.

Mesa police officer Robert Goodrich. (Steve Burks/MyNewsMesa.com)

“It comes down to right place at the right time. It could have been any officer,” said three-year veteran Mesa police officer Robert Goodrich, who was fueling up nearby when he heard the call. “I have a soft spot for dogs, like most of us do, and I was able to get there pretty quick.”

What happened next has been making the rounds on social media since the incident on Aug. 2. In video (above) filmed by the jogger, Bryan Yeager, Sparky can be seen swimming back and forth across the canal in the area just west of Center Street behind the Mesa Cemetary, with Goodrich trying to coax the dog to his side of the canal.

Janet Tenaglia of Mesa holds her dog Sparky during a media event at Mesa Police Department headquarters on Aug. 8. (Steve Burks/MyNewsMesa.com)

The Mesa Police Department released officer Goodrich’s body-cam footage, which shows Sparky finding a spot along the canal where he can get his footing and pause just long enough for Goodrich to get a snare on him and yank him out.

“I immediately thought about the snare, because there’s a pretty significant dropoff and it’s slippery and the last thing you want to do is fall in weighted down with gear, it’s not going to be a fun trip, so the snare worked out,” Goodrich said.

Tenaglia, along with his wife Janet and Sparky, was on hand at Mesa police headquarters on Tuesday morning for a press conference. Tenaglia, a Marine veteran, couldn’t thank Goodrich enough for getting Sparky back for him.

“I call it a miracle. I don’t know what somebody else might call it, but that’s what I call it,” Tenaglia said. “I think by talking to (Goodrich), he knows how I feel in my heart and I think he pretty much feels the same way because he has dogs also and he would feel the appreciation that I feel for him this morning.”

Mesa residents John and Janet Tenaglia. (Steve Burks/MyNewsMesa.com)

“The opportunity to help a veteran, I’ll never pass it up,” said Goodrich, himself an Army veteran. “The opportunity to actually help a helpless animal, that’s a very rare occasion and it’s one of the ones that is memorable.

Falls into the Valley’s canals aren’t uncommon, be they animal or human, due to the fact that the dirt right next to the canal is soft and footing can be difficult.

“With our monsoon, that canal can rise and drop in depth as well as the current changes,” Goodrich said. “I keep a 100-foot rope in my truck, just in case I have to tether myself to my car, but that would probably be an extreme situation. There’s not many reasons I would go into the canal.”

– Steve Burks is a reporter for MyNewsMesa.com.

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