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Woman recovering from brain injury, says dog may have saved her life

A Missouri woman has been recovering from a traumatic brain injury after the heroic actions of her newly adopted dog may have saved her life.

Posted: Jun 9, 2019 11:33 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2019 11:33 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A Missouri woman has been recovering from a traumatic brain injury after the heroic actions of her newly adopted dog may have saved her life.

The St. Joseph Animal Shelter said the dog, named Pippa, was adopted from the shelter in mid to late April. This was Pippa's second time being adopted after being returned by her first family.

"When we first met her she came to the shelter as Cha Cha and that was her name," Jennifer Lockwood, Human Educator at St. Joseph Animal Shelter, said. "Cha Cha had quite a bit of energy, she didn't have - well, I wouldn't say she had bad manners she just hadn't really been trained on anything."

To help teach Pippa some basic training skills, the Animal Shelter put her into the Puppies for Parole program. 

"It's an amazing program, it really turns out some really great, well-behaved dogs," Lockwood said. "It's just really fun to work with them."

After finishing her training, Pippa joined her new family with current owner Vicki Halbert.

"She seemed to take to me right away," Halbert said. "Even on the car ride on the way home, she had her head on my shoulder, of course, drooling down the side of me."

Halbert said she adopted Pippa in hopes of furthering the dog's training and making her a certified support dog. However, Pippa had not received any of the additional training by the time Halbert's accident happened.

On May 7, Halbert said she was taking Pippa on an evening walk around 5 p.m. when she somehow lost her footing and fell down a steep hill. After hitting a tree, she lost consciousness and couldn't move.

"Pippa went over to neighbor's houses where people were outside, and circled them and then took off," Halbert said.

Reacting quickly, Halbert said Pippa began to alert the neighbors until finally getting one of them to follow her to where Halbert was laying. 

When the neighbor got there, she saw Halbert laying face down by the tree and immediately called authorities.

"If Pippa had not taken those steps to get somebody to help me, you know it could have been a very different narrative," Halbert said.

Halbert spent a week in the hospital recovering from a concussion and traumatic brain injury. She said she is expected to make a full recovery and gives all the credit to her dog.

"I know these are strong words, but it could be that she did save my life," Halbert said.

The St. Joseph Animal Shelter said they have about 14 dogs that are in the Puppies for Parole program at any given time. She said the program gives the dogs the basic training they need.

"They have facilities throughout Missouri that work with shelter dogs to train them and work with them on behavior issues to make them more adoptable," Lockwood said. 

If you'd like to find out more about the Puppies for Parole program, or how to adopt a furry friend then contact the shelter at (816) 271-4877.

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