'Incredible' Belfast bin men help dislodge ball from pet dog's throat
Three Belfast bin men have been labelled heroes after they used the Heimlich manoeuvre to save a dog's life after a small rubber ball got lodged in its throat.
The drama unfolded as springer spaniel Rocco choked after a walk yesterday morning.
Owner Maire Jamison (52) rang U105's phone-in with Frank Mitchell to tell of the heroic efforts of the bin men who she named as Daniel Metcalf, Danny Rafferty and Davey McCracken.
It was a year to the day since Ms Jamison got Rocco, who is a retired sniffer dog.
The 10-year-old dog picked up a ball, which was around the size of a golf ball, from Ballysillan Park on the way back home to the Crumlin Road at 10.30am.
Ms Jamison said: "Someone had a small tiny ball for a smaller dog, but Rocco being Rocco got that ball plus his own ball and I could not get it off him, even with treats.
"He ended up bringing it home with him and when he got home he let the one ball go and I thought 'why isn't he letting the other ball go' - but then I heard like a gagging sound.
"I went over to help but didn't realise there was going to be any problem in actually dislodging the ball. Then it got serious."
After around two minutes the bin men pulled up and one of them asked if everything was all right.
Ms Jamison added: "I said 'no the dog's choking on a ball', and he came over and called the other two lads. Without their help the dog wouldn't be here.
"It collapsed on to its legs, his eyes were rolling and he was actually going. We were losing the dog."
But one of the men suggested using the Heimlich manoeuvre, which they did.
She said: "I wouldn't have even thought of that manoeuvre.
"The dog's mouth had actually tightened down, it was very hard to get in, so they helped hold the mouth open and I was able to get in and get the ball out.
"The guy held the dog's mouth open and I put my hand right down and gradually was able to pull the ball up with the help of these guys.
"I just thought I'm going to push hard enough to get my finger around it and, as it was dislodged, the light just came back into him and it was like seeing someone come alive again."
Rocco tried to get the little ball again but it was moved.
Ms Jamison said: "I told the guys 'look, it's just brilliant and fantastic what you've done, I'm going to ring your employer to let them know what you did', because I think everybody deserves credit.
"They could have walked on, but the guy just stopped and called to the other two men.
"They had to hold the dog's mouth open.
"I had to try to get my hand down it, so it's incredible what they did, absolutely incredible."
A vet said yesterday afternoon that Rocco's heart rate and breathing were fine and he has eaten some soft food and was drinking well.
Ms Jamison said apart from keeping an eye on him and making sure he does not eat "something ridiculous" in the next few days, Rocco should be fine.
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