Firefighters pulled a dog from a flooded canyon in University City Thursday night, reuniting the pup with his owner after a two-hour-long rescue mission.
The 115-pound mastiff named Bruno fell into a 30-foot embankment next to the river in Rose Canyon, San Diego Fire-Rescue Capt. Robert Straith said.
Owner Benjamin Lopez called 91 around 6 p.m. after his dog ran after an animal while walking off-leash, he told NBC 7.
"I tried to get him out, but I couldn't get him out. It was too steep for me to go down and get him," Lopez said.
SDFD opted to manually pull the dog out with a harness after ruling out a helicopter rescue, though a helicopter was ready at the scene.
"It's always riskier using a helicopter in a tight space like this, so we wanted to try the least risky option first," Straith said.
The rescue mission was further complicated by the darkness of night, the swollen river from the recent storm, and the tight canyon space.
"We don't want to see the dog perish, but there's a risk versus gain when you're dealing with an animal versus a human being," he added. "This dog was very well behaved."
They also had to shut down train traffic in order to anchor the rope system onto the railroad tracks, Straith said.
"This is an every week walk we normally do, but he just happened to come over the railroad tracks and chase whatever he was chasing over the embankment there," Lopez told NBC 7.
Crews successfully rescued Bruno by lowering down team members who attached a harness, allowing people above to lift him out around 8:50 p.m., reuniting him with Lopez.
Bruno was not injured in the fall or the rescue, and Lopez was grateful to firefighters for his safe return.
"I'm trying to find the words, but I can't find them," Lopez said. "That's really all I can say right now, just thank them."
San Diego Humane Society officers were also at the scene to assist the rescue.