When WABC reporter Toni Yates and a camera crew set out for the freezing streets of Newark, New Jersey last Thursday night, they expected it would be business as usual.
But as the group covered their story, another completely different one started to unfold right before their eyes.
A fierce and dangerous cold blew in that night, with temperatures dipping as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Yates and the news crew were bundled up and ready to endure the harsh weather, but a dog they’d spotted outside was not. Concerned for the dog’s wellbeing, Yates and the crew continued to check on her, sure her owner would let her in any moment.
But as each crucial moment went by, the dog out alone in the deathly cold air, it was clear to Yates that she’d have to act fast to save the shivering dog’s life. The reporter and animal lover took to her Twitter account to plead for help in rescuing the poor dog.
The tweet begins by praising Newark’s efforts in helping its human residents stay warm, but ends with an appeal aimed at irresponsible pet owners. “Make pet owners get their dogs out of the cold,” she urged.
Yates added Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Twitter handle for good measure, hoping he would also urge residents to bring their vulnerable pets inside from the cold that evening. She figured if anyone could get out the word and save this poor dog from the arctic air, it would be Mayor Booker.
Booker has become legendary for stepping in personally to help people in need; the “Chuck Norris of U.S. Mayors” has in the past pulled a neighbor from her burning home, helped save a man who’d been hit by a car, and shoveled snow for Newark residents who needed help after a blizzard. After Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Booker took to his Twitter account to invite people into his home for some company and a good meal.
Yates’ tweet spread quickly from follower to follower. As the news crew monitored the dog, they hoped that help would arrive soon — and it did, in a very big way.
Just before 8 p.m. that evening, Mayor Cory Booker himself showed up on the scene flanked by Newark police officers. Booker asked the officers to crank up the heat in their cruiser while the “Super Mayor” himself scooped the dog up into his arms. Booker placed the dog, who was chilled to the bone, in the back of the squad car. WABC cameras caught every moment of the rescue operation.
“This is brutal weather, this dog is shaking really bad” Booker told WABC, “and you can’t just leave your dogs out here on a day like this and go away and expect them to be ok. Hypothermia on any animal including a human animal will set in pretty quickly. So this is very sad, you can just feel the dog shaking pretty badly.”
While Booker gently petted the dog, he hopped on his phone to call her owner, Moises Rodriguez, and ask why he’d left his dog outside in the dangerous temperatures. An apologetic Rodriguez, who had left town for Queens, New York earlier that day, explained that he did not know his dog had gotten outside. He told Booker his dog, Cha Cha, had recently given birth to a litter of puppies. The puppies were inside his home at the time. Rodriguez thanked the Mayor for intervening and saving Cha Cha’s life.
Mayor Booker later sent out a tweet to Toni Yates, thanking her for alerting him of the dog’s dire condition.
“Because of you that dog was rescued,” Booker tweeted. “Thank you for reaching out. Thank u for your kindness.”