Croatian rescuers praise dog’s care for hurt mountain hiker

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) – And it wasn’t a Saint Bernard.

Croatian rescuers praise a dog that saved its injured owner from freezing high up on a snow-capped mountain and kept him warm in the dark for 13 hours before he could receive medical attention.

“Friendship and love between humans and dogs know no boundaries,” wrote the district’s mountain rescue service on Twitter on Tuesday with a photo of the dog lying on a stretcher on its master.

The accident occurred late January 1, more than 1,700 meters on Velebit Mountain, which stretches along the Croatian Adriatic coast. Rescuers say both humans and dogs – an Alaskan malamute named North – slipped and fell about 500 feet (150 meters).

The hiker’s leg was badly injured, but the dog was uninjured and used his body heat to keep him warm as temperatures plummeted after dark and rescuers tried to locate them.

“(North) rolled over next to him and warmed him with his body,” said the emergency services post. “His loyalty didn’t stop when the rescuers came, he was one of us and guarded his husband for 13 hours.”

Rescuers said the night operation was particularly difficult because of snow, ice and broken tree branches blocking access to the site. A 27-person team participated in the rescue, reached the couple around midnight and handed the hiker over to the paramedics at around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

“This example could teach us all how to care for one another,” said the rescuers.