• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Dog rescued in L.A. River reunites with owner

February 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
It was a happy reunion for one local family and "Spikey," a German Shepherd who was rescued from the rain-swollen Los Angeles River last month.Spikey's tail spoke volumes on Tuesday. It hasn't wagged this much since he was separated from his owner on Jan. 22.

The Medinas paid $85 to get Spikey back. Even though he's probably the most recognizable dog in L.A. because of the ordeal, he now has a microchip to identify him.

Maria Medina, 70, said she's grateful to everyone who helped reunite her with Spikey, who has been part of her family for seven years.

The German Shepherd mix made news headlines nationwide when his dramatic rescue from the L.A. River was aired on TV stations and the Internet. Spikey struggled to dog-paddle against the river's currents and couldn't climb up the steep concrete embankment.

The Medina family did not see any news coverage of the rescue on Spanish television, but Medina's granddaughter saw video on the Internet and recognized Spikey by the bite marks on his ears.

L.A. City firefighter Joe St. Georges risked his life to hoist Spikey to safety, but was bitten by the frightened dog. Spikey had been quarantined until now.

"He's kind of a nervous dog," said Ramon Medina. "But it's a good dog. It takes care of the house."

Officials said they made the decision to rescue Spikey because they were concerned somebody else would see the dog in the river and try to do a rescue and drown in the process. The fire department said one-third of the people who drown in the U.S. are would-be rescuers.