A Solano County Animal Control officer rescued four dogs from a mini-van Thursday after a driver veered off state Highway 37, near Skaggs Island in Vallejo, and landed in the Bay, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said.
The sheriff's office was informed of the incident around 10 p.m., Deputy Christine Castillo said. The Vallejo Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol also responded.
The two occupants of the submerged vehicle — a female driver and male passenger — left the dogs behind when they were taken to a hospital, Castillo said.
"When I arrived there were no owners on scene," Animal Control Officer Mark Garcia said. "The only ones that were left were the four dogs. "
Garcia said he jumped out of bed and raced to the scene in his truck when he heard of the dogs being trapped in the sinking vehicle. For Garcia, it was the first emergency call of its kind, he said.
"I was very shocked to see how far the car was actually off the side of the road," he said.
Garcia did not have a pair of waders in his vehicle, so he put on orange shorts instead, Castillo said. Despite initial reports that the dogs were acting aggressively, Garcia decided to jump into the water and talk to them.
"I just told them, you know, 'Come here, boy. Come here, girls. It's going to be OK. Everything is going to be OK. I am here to help you,'" he said.
With the help of a ladder, Garcia was able to get a frightened female pit bull, a male pit bull mix and two Chihuahuas back to shore.
"We were able to rescue Scooter, Sassy, Angel, and, my favorite, Buster Posey," Garcia said.
The dogs calmed down once they were freed from the vehicle and were taken to the animal shelter, Castillo said.
The dogs "were just scared," Garcia recalled. "Again, same with the humans, they just involved with a bad accident and they had no idea what was going on."
Garcia, who insists that he was just doing his job, spoke to the pets' owners late Friday afternoon and said they were grateful that the dogs survived. They can't wait to pick them up, he said.