Strangers save Anna Meare's beloved beagle
CHRISTMAS is generally a time spent surrounded by family so when one of Anna Meares' family members went missing on Christmas Day, she was distraught.
The former Rockhampton champion Olympic cyclist, who is currently in the region visiting her mum and dad, was devastated on Christmas Day when Bruce, her beloved beagle of 10 years, went missing during a nasty storm at Hendon, a suburb of Adelaide.
Anna put a call out on social media, asking for help from the wider community to help bring Bruce home. "If anyone can help me look for or share this post, my dog Bruce has gone missing," Anna said on Facebook.
"He is a tri colour beagle not wearing his collar. Any help would be appreciated to find him."
As Anna, her friends, family and some of her followers searched for Bruce, a group of strangers, completely unaware of the Facebook post, stumbled across the beloved pet struggling in waters at West Lakes.
Southern media reports that Evan Hanias and his girlfriend Stella Papas and his cousins Andy Lattas and Nicholas Toskas were enjoying a Christmas Day fishing trip at West Lakes when a storm began to roll in.
Mr Hanias told southern media as the group took shelter under a bridge, he heard something splashing.
"In my head I was thinking, 'Is that a pelican?' I had a closer look and it was a dog," Mr Hanias said.
"I screamed out to my cousins and my girlfriend, 'There's a dog in the water'.
"There was a strong current so the dog was moving pretty quick - but it was as if he knew we were his only chance to get out, so he swam towards me... and I reached in and I grabbed him.
"I've got four slipped discs in my back so to get him out of the water was a struggle.
"I was holding onto him and it felt as if I was slipping in and I screamed out and (my cousins and girlfriend) pulled me up with the dog in my hands, so it was a team effort."
Mr Hanias said the group then took the dog to an emergency vet and posted a photo of him on SA-based Facebook pages dedicated to reuniting pets and owners.
Mr Hanias said he then saw the post about Bruce so he took a photo and left a number.
"Anna Meares called us," he said. "She was hysterically crying, you know, it would have been a stressful day, Christmas Day looking for your lost dog."
Anna met the group at the vet and after a few tears, lots of hugs and plenty of thank-yous she and Bruce headed home.
Anna later posted on social media to say Bruce was home safe and thanked Mr Hanias and his friends for their help.
"Despite some blistered paws, Bruce is well and happy," Anna said.
"He got three lamb chops and two chicken thighs from Ma and Pa.
"Paws didn't seem sore after that."