Whenever Grand Valley Power’s Dana Pogar sees an animal in need, she will stop at nothing to help.
Earlier this summer, Pogar made a split-second decision to save Togo, a 100-pound German shepherd mix who was trapped next to flames leaping out of a burning garage in Grand Junction, Colorado. Pogar and a bystander tore down a pen made of wooden pallets to get to the dog.
“As a dog mom and animal lover, there is no doubt that I was going to do everything in my power to get that dog to safety,” said Pogar, a communications specialist at the Grand Junction-based electric cooperative and an owner of two dogs, two cats and nine chickens.
Pogar was driving home after visiting her future in-laws around 6 p.m. in late June when she saw thick smoke billowing skyward. She pulled over to get a better look and “saw this entire large structure just blowing up in flames.” She asked a bystander, who had called 911, whether he heard cries for help or barking. “He hadn’t heard anything, but I wanted to verify that for my own mental sake,” Pogar said.
That’s when Pogar saw Togo, barking frantically in a wooden pen about 10 feet from the burning structure. By then, another woman was on the scene, “and we knew at that point that if we didn’t get him out of there, he was going to die.”
Fueled by adrenaline, Pogar and the woman tore down the pen with their bare hands.
“They say a mother in distress can lift a car off her kids,” Pogar said. “We really put that to the test. It was an intense moment, that’s for sure, because things were definitely exploding, including the service line to the house.”
When they freed the dog, “I scooped him right up,” buried her face in his fur to protect against smoke and possible dog bites and lugged him to safety. At one point, Togo leaped out of her arms and ran back toward the fire, but Pogar jumped in her car and sped over to him. “I think at that point he knew I was trying to help him because he laid in my arms” and climbed inside the car for water.
By then, first responders and firefighters had arrived and offered to take the dog to a local shelter, but Pogar stayed with Togo inside her air-conditioned car “giving him lots of love and kisses” until his owners arrived.
Lost in the fire was inventory for Be Kind Events, the owners’ party-planning business. “They were so overwhelmed with emotions regarding everything, but very grateful that the dog was alive,” Pogar said.
Pogar’s involvement didn’t stop with rescuing Togo—she also promoted a GoFundMe site set up by Togo’s family, which has raised more than $700 to help replace their inventory.
Pogar escaped injury and has no regrets about the risk she took. “My fiancé said, ‘Please don’t do that again.’ And I said, ‘Honey, I love you, but I can’t promise I wouldn’t take that sort of action again because I would want someone to do the same for me and our fur babies.’”
Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer for NRECA.