By Bill Parry
A Queens bicyclist and her 5-month-old Pomeranian puppy were rescued in dramatic fashion by the FDNY’s Corona Tigers last Thursday after they were struck by a city Parks Department sanitation truck in Corona.
Stefanie Campos was riding a bike, with her puppy Charlie in her backpack, when they were struck by the garbage truck just after 5 p.m. at 104th Street and 43rd Avenue, officials say.
That is when firefighters from Engine 289 and Ladder 138, who were heading to a water main break, came upon the scene finding the woman and her dog lying in the street. EMS members arrived and took the woman to Elmhurst Hospital Center with minor injuries, according to the FDNY.
Firefighters from Ladder 138, including Lt. Michael Decollibus, attended to Charlie, who was bleeding and appeared to be severely injured.
“It sounds like a cliche, but he’s literally looking up at you with those sad puppy eyes and your heart goes out to it,” Decollibus said.
One of the firefighters suggested they take him to a veterinarian a few blocks away. They put Charlie inside a small open-top cardboard box and a firefighter carried it on his lap in the fire rig. The veterinarian said the dog was in poor condition with injuries to his hips and legs, but she did not have the capabilities to treat the puppy in her office, suggesting they take him to BluePearl Veterinary Partners Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Forest Hills.
Doctors there stabilized Charlie, saying he had three fractures and substantial bleeding, but no internal injuries. Charlie underwent hip surgery on Saturday morning following a PayPal fund-raiser by Frankie’s Friends, a charitable pet foundation. The short “Save Charlie” campaign netted over $6,700, mostly due to one anonymous donor that sent $5,000.
BluePearl matched 25 percent of all donations for Charlie’s care. A representative said the puppy was doing well and is in full recovery.
Campos was able to take Charlie home Wednesday after he was discharged from BluePearl. Her brother, who had been riding with her when she crashed, went to the Corona Tigers’ firehouse, at 97-28 43rd Ave., to collect her bike. He told the members they were grateful the firefighters stepped up to help the puppy.
“It certainly makes you feel good to know we could help the poor helpless dog,” Decollibus said. “I think that’s what we’re supposed to do, a life is a life.”
While the Parks Department is investigating the accident, the NYPD says there have been no summonses or charges issued involving the crash.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.