“Perilous” flood rescue performed by friends, not RCMP

Faro RCMP distorted the truth to take credit for a dramatic flood rescue that saved 25 sled dogs last Friday, said the dogs' owner, Yasmine Diabri.

Faro RCMP distorted the truth to take credit for a dramatic flood rescue that saved 25 sled dogs last Friday, said the dogs’ owner, Yasmine Diabri.

The RCMP were not helpful when Doug Hannah, Diabri’s husband, was stranded at their Faro home by half a metre of water after the Pelly River breached its banks last Thursday night, she said.

“The RCMP were notified around three o’clock on (Thursday) afternoon and at one o’clock the next day nobody had checked, nobody was coming and nothing was organized,” said Diabri, who was in Whitehorse for work and spent the night on the phone checking to see if the water was rising.

Hannah was trying to calm their 27 dogs, which began to behave erratically and violently out of stress, she said.

Hannah’s also a type-1 diabetic, and the adrenaline rush began to put his life at risk.

The RCMP tried to drive to the property Thursday afternoon, but turned around because the road was washed out, said Diabri.

“(Hannah) talked again with one of the officers and asked him, ‘What do I do if things get worse during the night?’ and (the officer) just said, ‘Call us,’” she said.

The water levels stabilized during the night, but Friday morning didn’t bring the respite they were hoping for. The water rose to about 1.8 metres and Hannah called Henry Dick, a friend, for help. Dick owns an amphibious Argo.

Hannah left his home with three dogs in a canoe around 10 a.m on Friday, leaving the rest of the animals crowding on their front porch.

Hannah began navigating through the woods and along the Blind Creek Road, deciding to canoe in the open fields around the house.

“We had discussed the night before what he should do if he had to escape,” said Diabri. “The Blind Creek Road is kind of a runway that goes straight into the Pelly River.”

Hannah couldn’t touch the ground with his paddle and worried that he wouldn’t make it if he capsized.

At that point he heard a motor on the Blind Creek Road, said Diabri.

Hannah turned around, making for the house so he could meet the Argo.

Hannah ran into Dick on the Blind Creek Road. He’d brought two friends with him, Liethe Minder and Dale Ladue.

The two watercraft found a safe place to drop off the first dogs, and Minder made her way to the RCMP for more help.

“She went to the RCMP and said, ‘You need to come down with a boat,’” said Diabri. “And one of the officers said, ‘If Doug is safe I don’t care about the dogs.’

“She pleaded, and the young officer eventually came down with the boat.”

The RCMP jet boat performed several trips to the home to save the dogs. Hannah was taken into town to eat and rest.

In all, 25 dogs survived and two drowned in the flood.

Diabri thought the worst was behind her. Then the RCMP read her the news release they had issued on Monday morning.

It was titled, Police Save Dogs from Pelly River Flood.

“I kept my cool throughout this and I lost it yesterday when I heard about (the release),” said Diabri. “What really happened was that my husband, after notifying them the day before, had to save himself in a canoe.”

The Argo had more to do with a good friend that Hannah had to call himself, said Diabri.

“They talk about (the Yukon Emergency Measures Organization) but they never did anything at all,” she said.

That’s what made me so mad, because Henry’s not an (Emergency Measures Organization) member, he’s just a friend.

“If he was EMO, he would have had a lifejacket or something.”

Hannah and his dogs’ survival depended more on the bravery of a few friends than the swift action of the RCMP, she said.

“Going into a flood with an Argo isn’t very safe,” said Diabri. “They were in this little Argo in a strong current with no lifejackets.”

“Liethe has two kids and she doesn’t know how to swim,” she said.

The RCMP did set up the Argo, and the incident with the careless cop who didn’t care about the dogs never happened, said Faro RCMP Const. Russell Blackjack.

Dick volunteered to help the Emergency Measures Organization, said Blackjack.

Dick, a hunter, could not be reached for comment because he was at a camp beyond cellphone range on Tuesday afternoon.

See the RCMP release at http://www.yukon-news.com/news/12739/

Contact James Munson at