Three-legged dog with cancer saves baby otter in Minnesota


A baby otter was rescued by a three-legged dog with cancer in Minnesota.

Screengrab from Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC)

Gus the Goldendoodle hadn’t swam since he lost a leg to cancer.

The 6-year-old dog’s owners weren’t certain he could ever swim again after getting his leg amputated in February, his owners told FOX 9. But on Sunday, April 17, the dog jumped into a Minnesota river and came out with a baby otter.

Gus had a tumor removed during a follow up earlier this year, WCCO reported. Then staff at the University of Minnesota found another tumor and amputated one of his back legs.

“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,” Gus’ owner, Cleo Young, told WCCO.

Gus and his family were spending Easter Sunday outdoors when he jumped into the St. Croix River. He swam out at least 50 feet from shore, according to FOX 9.

The family was shocked that Gus was swimming just as well as he did before the amputation, but they were more shocked when he emerged from the water.

“First time swimming with three legs and he comes out of the water with a baby otter in his mouth,” Ella Hammerstrand, the granddaughter of Gus’s owner, told FOX 9.

Gus dropped the otter at their feet, according to WCCO. They immediately washed sand off and rushed it to a nearby wildlife rehabilitation center.

Gus rescued the baby otter, according to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota. The tiny river otter was too young to be in the water.

“It should still be in the den with its mom,” the rehabilitation center said on Facebook. “Having no idea where the den is, how far the little guy traveled, the otter has been admitted for rehabilitation.”

Wildlife officials were concerned for the first 36 hours they were caring for the otter. He was cold to touch, and they didn’t know if he was fighting pneumonia.

“The otter turned the corner the other day and is doing well,” wildlife officials said. “Kudos to Gus, and his wonderful owners Cleo and John, for saving this young otter’s life.”

Maddie Capron is a McClatchy Real-Time News Reporter focused on the outdoors and wildlife in the western U.S. She graduated from Ohio University and previously worked at CNN, the Idaho Statesman and Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism.

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