Unsung Hero #50

Alert “06880” reader Cary Peterson writes:

It was late afternoon last Friday. As I do almost every day, I walked our little dog to Grace Salmon Park.


The tide was as low as it can get. It looked like you could walk to Riverside Avenue. I let Chloe off her leash on the path around the river. She doesn’t like the water, and usually stays right with me.

She nosed around the center where it is fenced off, and flushed out a duck. It flew toward the river, with our dog right on her tail.

She plunged into the mud and followed the duck out to open water, a long way from shore. I screamed at her to come, but she seemed stuck.

At that moment a police car pulled in the park. I ran over. Officer John Lauria tried to calm me down, as he assessed the situation.

Neither of us could see any sign of Chloe. I was sure she was drowned in mud.

Officer Lauria called animal control. We walked around looking for any sign of her.

I was hysterical, as the officer explained he couldn’t walk out in the quicksand. I certainly didn’t want him risking his life either. He commiserated with me on how difficult it is to lose a dog.

Officer John Lauria, on land.

After 10 futile minutes he spotted Chloe, way at the edge of the muck. He jumped in and walked across the Saugatuck River to rescue her.

The relief I felt when he safely trudged ashore carrying her is indescribable.

By that time animal control officer Joseph Saponare had arrived. He was barefoot, and ready to help. He was also well supplied with towels, which made only a small dent in wiping off the black muck.

I am struck by how easy it is to misjudge even a very obedient dog. We have been taking her to this park without incident since she finished her obedience training 6 years ago. Dogs have very strong instincts. We have to keep Chloe always on a leash.

As for officer John Lauria: He took a big risk for a little dog. To me he will always walk on water!

15 responses to “Unsung Hero #50

  1. Vivianne Pommier

    i am so happy that your Chloe is safe at home.. and all our thanks to Officer Lauria. have a wonderful day

  2. India Penney

    SO GLAD this story had a happy ending. Gotta love our police officers, too!

    Yes, Cary, we learned that same lesson years ago when we decided to raise and socialize a service dog. One of the first things we were taught was to never let the dog off leash unless in a completely, securely fenced area. They said: “These will be some of the best trained dogs when we’re done. But even the best trained dog CAN suddenly see a squirrel and take off and not come when called. Or take off across the street and get hit by a car.”
    We’ve never let a dog off leash since. Many people have commented that we’re overly protective. But I say better a protected dog than a dead one.

    All the best to you and Chloe!!

  3. John Brandt

    Dear Officer Lauria, OK, so I’m a dog and do doggie things from time to time. ‘Nuff said. But I’m really sorry you had to wade in after me. Dan didn’t deserve my breach in training, but, as I said, I’m a dog. So we all learned an important lesson. First, no amount of training can neutralize thousands of years of instinct. Second, if you’re the dog of a caninephilic writer, try to be sensitive to his needs, as well as your own. And lastly, if you’re going to go rogue in the muck, make sure that a good Samaritan is standing by, willing to ruin a well-polished pair of dress shoes. Glad it turned out well for all concerned. Dan, we owe Officer Lauria a nice pair… of shoes.

    Your friend for life,


  4. Claudia P Shaum

    What a wonderful story in a world where we so rarely get to hear them. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Audrey Hertzel

    <3 So glad for the happy ending for Chloe and her owner. Officer Lauria, you rock! <3

  6. Nancy Greenspan Wilson


    Nancy Greenspan Wilson Health and Fitness Coach 203-982-0520

    BeachbodyCoach.com/NancyWilson520 Shakeology.com/NancyWilson520 https://www.facebook.com/NourishwNancy


  7. Sal Liccione

    John and joe did a great job

  8. Adam Vengrow

    He is a great part of the Westport PD in town. He has been helpful to a lot of things… great call here!!!

  9. Carl Leaman

    John is a new Westport policeman and it didn’t take him long to fit right in. Keep up the good work.

  10. Barbara Sherburne '67

    I am so happy to hear that Chloe is okay and that Officer Lauria came to her rescue. I see a lot of dogs off leash at Westside Field in Wallingford, and I don’t understand it. I had a friend whose dog hated garbage trucks. One day while off leash he ran to try to catch it and was almost killed. It just makes sense to keep a dog on a leash. Your Chloe is very cute. I wish you many more wonderful years together.

  11. Dorothy Abrams

    Did he get the new shoes?

  12. Linda Amos

    What a great story! I was so hopeful it would have a happy ending and it did except for the shoes!

  13. Daniel Katz

    Officer, John Lauria, you are a true gift to Westport. Thank you!

  14. Helle Munch Hardy

    so well and thoughtfully carried out. Proud of the P.D. and Animal Control

  15. Marge Santella

    Great job John! You are a very caring guy and I am sure a hero in the eyes of many.pet lovers and the Westport community.
    Thanks to Joe Saponere too.