Animal World
Shining World Hero Award: Dog-Saving Firefighter and Shark-Rescuing Divers      
Everywhere in the world, we can observe and be touched by acts of kindness. People from all walks of life, faiths, and cultures extend themselves beyond the call of duty to help others unconditionally. Through their noble deeds, humanity as a whole is elevated.

To commend virtuous actions and encourage more people to be inspired by their examples, Supreme Master Ching Hai has lovingly created a series of awards, including the Shining World Leadership Award, Shining World Compassion Award, Shining World Hero and Heroine Awards, Shining World Honesty Award, Shining World Protection Award, Shining World Intelligence Award, and Shining World Inventor Award, to recognize some of the most exemplary, generous, caring, and courageous people who walk amongst us. Today we are pleased to introduce exemplars of true altruistic kindness from the USA, as we feature two uplifting stories of humans risking their own lives to save animals.

I’m a firefighter/paramedic, assigned to the Los Angeles Fire Department, our Air Operations Section.

We are primarily a service for, for humans. But we’re not going to turn away an animal.

In late January 2010, Southern California, USA was pummelled with rainstorms for several days, causing the area’s rivers to overflow. During this time a six-year-old German Shepherd was found trapped on a small concrete ledge in the middle of the Los Angeles River that flows through Vernon, a city near Los Angeles. At least 50 firefighters arrived at the scene, but none of the rescue attempts were successful until a special team from the Los Angeles Fire Department Air Operations Section was dispatched.

We had been experiencing about three days of heavy rains; this was day four of heavy rains. And we typically pre-deploy resources around the City of Los Angeles for swift water rescues, in the event somebody, we’re expecting a human, gets themselves trapped in the channels.

We’d had a lull in the rain so the water level had dropped, which is why he hadn’t just been swept away. (Right) The problem was he couldn’t get out and there was another very serious (storm) cell coming in right behind us. We anticipated, by the time they put me down to effect the rescue, we probably only had 10, maybe 15 minutes before a serious wall of water was going to come.

That’s one of the big reasons for using the helicopter, was our time was diminishing rapidly.

Firefighter Joe St. Georges volunteered to be lowered from a helicopter by a tether in an attempt to rescue the canine. The conditions of the rescue were highly challenging and there was no guarantee of safety or success.

The dog, he’d been in the water, he’d probably taken a ride (down the river) for a little bit. He was lying down. He looked like he was really pretty wiped out. One of the concerns I had was I can’t really take a lot of time, one, because we’ve got the water coming and we know it; two, he’s on the bank of the channel, and there is a high tension power station literally right there. My pilot is flying the helicopter fairly close, and he told me that at one point he was actually under some of the power wires.

My immediate concern is the people that I'm working with, because we're in the most critical position. So I’ve got to be able to do this quick. Once I make contact, I can't let the dog go at that point.

The rescue was made all the more difficult because the German Shepherd bit down on Joe St. Georges’ hand as he was very scared. However the courageous firefighter was able to hold on tightly to the dog, and the pair was safely airlifted out.

From the time they started to put me down to the time I ended up, they put me on the bridge, was probably about two-and-a-half minutes. It looked, and felt forever, but it was actually a fairly rapid rescue.

Nicknamed “Vernon” after the city where he was rescued, the German Shepherd was given medical treatment and later warmly welcomed home by his much-relieved caregiver. For his selfless dedication and heroic efforts in saving a fellow being in need, Supreme Master Ching Hai recently honored Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter Joe St. Georges with the Shining World Hero Award.

I'm very proud to accept it. Honestly though, anybody that had been there that day, they would have done the same thing. This is what we do; firefighters train to do these things. So it just happened to be that it was my day. But any one of the 50 people that were assigned on the ground, and any of the other crew that was with me, we all would have done it.

A warmhearted letter of appreciation from Master to Mr. St. Georges accompanied the beautiful Award plaque. In addition, Master’s #1 international best selling books “The Dogs in My Life,” “The Birds in My Life” and “The Noble Wilds,” were given to him as tokens of appreciation for his inspiring gallantry. Bravo, Los Angeles Fire Department rescue team and Joe St. Georges for your timely, lifesaving efforts that allowed Vernon to be reunited in love and happiness with his human family. When we return, we’ll meet two men who saved the life of a shark. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to the Shining World Hero Award series on Supreme Master Television. Today we’re recognizing three extraordinary men from the USA who risked their lives to rescue animals in danger. On February 27, 2010, when Scuba Works dive shop owner John Dickinson and former emergency veterinarian Dr. Chip Garber were diving off the coast of Florida, USA, they noticed something unusual on the ocean floor.

Chip and I were diving together on a wreck called “The Princess Anne,” which is located just off of Palm Beach, Florida (USA). And when Chip and I approached the wreck, we saw a Grey Nurse Shark that was up underneath a portion of the wreck and it just didn’t seem to look right. He seemed to look discolored, like he had lost a lot of weight. And Chip went over and just touched his tail to see if he was alive and when he did, the shark swam away.

Upon approaching the shark, Dr. Garber noticed that what was troubling him was a Frisbee-like plastic ring that had become lodged around his head. Being a former emergency veterinarian and knowing the risk he was taking, Dr. Garber decided to help the shark.

He was a Nurse Shark, which are not known for being real aggressive sharks, for one. And he was one that I thought I could get hold of and be able to restrain without getting hurt. And he was definitely in a weakened state from it. So I wasn’t real concerned about getting bit or anything, but it was a chance where we could do him some good by getting that off definitely.

The brave, compassionate Dr. Garber then swam again toward the distressed shark, followed closely by his friend John Dickinson, who was carrying an underwater camcorder to record the event.

Once the shark got up and started moving, he wasn’t going all that fast and you could tell he was definitely being affected by having the Frisbee ring around his head because it was going right across the gills, where the water exits. So what we did was John was off to the side, and he was filming the shark because he’s always taking pictures of everything interesting on our dives. So as he was doing that, I was on an underwater scooter that I could swim pretty fast with, so I just caught up with the shark and I looked at him and I figured it didn’t look like he would be too hard to get the ring off of him.

So, while John was filming him to record a Frisbee on a shark’s head like that, I came up behind and got hold of the ring itself and then pulled him in tight to me where I could hold on to him and then peeled the Frisbee up off of his head. And then by that point he’d struggled enough to where he got away from me and swam off. And it looked like he was swimming pretty well when he headed out. So definitely getting that off of his gills was a big, big help to him. You could tell the effects it had had on him because it was starting to cut into his gills and also he was so wrinkled from weight loss, because he wasn’t eating well with that on either.

Deeply moved by Dr. Garber’s unwavering valor in saving the life of our marine friend in need, Supreme Master Ching Hai honored him and Mr. Dickinson with the Shining World Hero Award. The two gentlemen received lovely crystal Award plaques along with a framed letter from Supreme Master Ching Hai. Here’s an excerpt from Supreme Master Ching Hai’s loving words of encouragement to Dr. Garber and Mr. Dickinson:

In this rescue you both showed heroic courage, truly admirable compassion and wisdom, and recording the plight that marine life faces as a result of human waste. For your wonderful life-preserving bravery and selfless act of compassion, for assisting a being so many other people fear, and for acting in a way that provides such a fine example of how to treat other species, we hereby applaud and celebrate the awesome and heroic deeds of Chip Garber & John Dickinson. With Great Honor, Love and Blessings, Supreme Master Ching Hai Okay, this is for you, first. And this for you, Mr. Dickinson (Thank you.) You’re welcome. (Thank you, thank you.) You’re welcome.

The noble divers were also given Supreme Master Ching Hai’s #1 international best selling books, “the Dogs in My Life,” “The Birds in My Life” and “The Noble Wilds,” along with a selection of her DVDs and CDs and two custom-tailored “Hero” jackets in appreciation of their praiseworthy deeds.

I looked it up online and saw just how prestigious the Award is, and just the fine organization that is doing a lot to help the environment and animals, I felt very proud, felt very honored to be a recipient.

I would like to thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for honoring us. We saw a chance to make a difference and we did it.

Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet!

Our admiring salute goes to John Dickinson and Dr. Chip Garber for their courageous, loving rescue efforts in freeing the shark from plastic debris. As we take better care of the oceans, may all marine life flourish in natural harmony and balance. Friendly viewers, thank you for your presence on this episode of the Shining World Hero Award series. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May love always encompass your life.

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