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Three-legged dog battling cancer jumps into freezing river to save baby otter

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center noted the baby otter was too young to survive without its mother and was rescued by Gus.

Three-legged dog battling cancer jumps into freezing river to save baby otter
Image source: left: Instagram/wrcmn Right: YouTube screenshot/WCCO - CBS Minnesota

A three-legged dog battling cancer jumped into a river to save a baby otter in Minnesota. The dog noticed the baby otter struggling and drowning and he jumped into the freezing river without hesitation. Gus the goldendoodle swam at least 50 feet out into the St. Croix River to rescue the baby otter. He then swam back to the bank with the otter and dropped it in front of Cleo Young, his owner, reported ABC 15. Young was out walking with her two grandchildren and Gus when the incident happened. "Everyone give a shout-out to Gus, the wonderful golden doodle who came across this tiny young River Otter and rescued it," wrote the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota on its Facebook page. They also posted a video of the baby otter being nursed using a syringe while wrapped in a blanket. 


"The otter is much too young to be in the water, it should still be in the den with its mom," noted the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota. "Having no idea where the den is, how far the little guy traveled, the otter has been admitted for rehabilitation." Gus has been battling cancer and his back right leg had to be amputated after tumors were found. “We thought, Oh this is going to be so sad, he isn’t going to be able to run again like he used to, but this hasn’t slowed him down at all,” said Young. Gus, like most dogs, is a natural swimmer and didn't hesitate to save the baby otter on April 17, according to WCCO. The baby otter was covered in sand. Cleo Young washed it off and rushed it to the wildlife rehabilitation center in the hopes of saving it. “He’s a very friendly, happy, goldendoodle,” gushes Gus’ owner, reported Minnesota CBS local.




Wildlife officials were worried about the baby otter as it was very cold and they suspected it was fighting pneumonia. "Despite his journey, he just has a few scrapes. He's in critical care tonight as we monitor his temperature and then watch for signs of pneumonia," read an Instagram post of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. They were worried for the first 36 hours but updated that the baby otter was now doing well and being cared for. “Kudos to Gus and his wonderful owners, Cleo and John, for saving this young otter’s life," said the wildlife group. According to its bio, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota is the world's busiest wildlife hospital and one of the nation's oldest, providing emergency medical care to 19,000+ wild animals in 2022 alone. The baby otter has now been transferred to another rehabilitation center for more care.


People lauded Gus and the hospital staff for rescuing the baby river otter. "Good boy Gus! What a hero!!! He knew what was going on. He gently held the baby in his mouth. He even dropped the otter at his owners' feet. Such a brilliant, compassionate hero!!!!" wrote Marilyn. "What a beautiful rescue story this little otter has!! A big THANK YOU to Gus and his wise owners… and to you All at WRC… Such a fortunate and precious baby," wrote Elliott. "You do such a wonderful job at WRC! Thank you SO much for being there and caring for the animals, and thanks to Gus and his parents for bringing the little otter to you," commented Jody. 

Gus still has three more chemotherapy sessions to go, but he's just as loving, happy and kind as he could ever be. 

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