Seamus the Australian Shepherd was swept away in floodwaters in San Bernardino, California, after recent storms. He was carried downstream almost a mile, but was rescued with the assistance of the Apple AirTag attached to his collar.
Cult of Mac interviewed Emilie Brill, Seamus’ owner. Here are the details of the pup’s rescue in her own words.
AirTag to the dog’s rescue… sort of
AirTag is a small gadget that uses wireless tech to make it findable. Attach it to your keys or luggage, and it’ll help you locate them if they go missing. Like many pet owners, Brill keeps an AirTag on her dog’s collar.
She and Seamus were out for a walk on January 16 when the dog escaped the leash. Unfortunately, he decided to investigate a river overly full of water from recent storms in the area. He was immediately pulled in and swept downstream, with Brill trying desperately to keep up.
She takes up the story:
“I was running along the river when I called 911 — I lost visual on Seamus but I kept running downstream and in the meantime I also called my husband, who was at home. He jumped in the car and intercepted me at the next major intersection.
“At this point, the AirTag was still showing Seamus’s location at the point where he had fallen in and there had been no update. We reasoned that since the channel he was in converges with the Santa Ana River about a mile and a half downstream from where he fell in, we would go there and look for him.
“We were searching for him in that area when all of a sudden my phone updated his AirTag location, putting him at 0.6 miles upstream from where we were searching. The timestamp said ‘3 minutes ago.’
“In retrospect, we know that Seamus had likely already made it into that storm drain around the time my husband met me with the car, and we surmise that the AirTag location likely updated when the firefighters arrived on the scene and one of their cellphones came in range of Seamus’s AirTag.”
Seamus is safe and that’s what matters
As Brill alluded to, Seamus was rescued not by her and her husband but because Darrell Smith spotted him in the river. “I saw enough of the dog to see that he was in the river moving downstream,” Smith later told firefighters. “I started running, lost visual and then heard barking.” He found the pup deep in a storm drain access tube on a pile of trash.
Smith called 911, then flagged down a fire truck from the San Bernardino County Fire Department that was already in the area looking for Seamus because of the original 911 call.
The fire crew climbed down and rescued the dog. They were able to contact his owners because he had a dog tag with an address and phone number.
AirTag gave dog owners peace of mind
While Smith and the firefighters did the actual rescuing, Brill said she’s grateful Seamus had on his AirTag.
“That location update from the AirTag certainly gave us renewed hope,” she noted. “At that point, I think it had been close to 45 minutes that Seamus had been missing and we had no idea where he was.”
She also points out that the AirTag could have played a more important role. It located her dog and his rescuers before they contacted her. Her husband got to the rescue site just as the fire truck was pulling away to deliver Seamus back to his home.
How you can help
Smith, the man who spotted Seamus in the river and led directly to the dog’s rescue, is very familiar with the area. Despite having a job, he’s homeless and camps under a bridge near where he spotted the dog.
In thanks, Brill set up a GoFundMe page for the man to get him some housing assistance.