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Successful Pyrénées mountain rescue of... a St. Bernard dog

“Without our intervention, Beethoven [the dog] would probably have died of exhaustion,” said one of the rescuers

6 February 2021
By Connexion journalist

A young St. Bernard dog had to be saved by a mountain rescue team after it became exhausted from trekking through soft snow during a hike in the Pyrénées mountains with its owners.

The three-year-old dog, named Beethoven, and its two owners set off on a hike from the Formiguères ski resort in the Pyrénées-Orientales department last Monday, February 1. 

The two people were using skis while the dog walked alongside. At one point, the dog wandered off by herself, but due to the temperature making the snow soft, quickly tired, France 3 Occitanie reported.

The owners managed to find Beethoven again but decided to call the rescue services as night had started to fall and she had lain down from exhaustion, unable to continue. 

“There was about 30 centimetres of soft snow, which exhausted the dog,” said Laurent Gatounes, one of the four-person rescue team from Secours en montagne 66 who helped save Beethoven. 

The mountain rescue team only arrived on the scene around 18:30 as they were busy rescuing another hiker.

“We had a lot of difficulty keeping the dog in the stretcher,” Mr Gatounes told France 3 Occitanie. 

"These are narrow stretchers, designed for humans. The dog was so stressed that she was always getting free.” 

The rescue team finally managed to get her back down to the ski station by around 22:30. 

Beethoven has since made a full recovery. 

Mr Gatounes said, "I had never carried out such an operation in my entire career.

"With a dog, it's better to avoid such long outings in such snow conditions. Without our intervention, Beethoven would probably have died of exhaustion.”

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