VCA Employee and her Search & Rescue Dog Ava Save the Life of a 2-Year Old Boy

Published by VCA Inc. in Dogs, Happy Tails, Lifesaving, Search & Rescue June 5, 2017

Update to this story posted back in March:

On Thursday June 1, 2017, at 2:30 p.m., the Portland Police Bureau presented Becky Irving and Ava the Rescue Dog with the Life Saving Medal by the Chief of Police and the Portland Police Bureau.  Congrats to Becky and Ava, for their well-deserved honor and recognition!

Becky and Ava receive award

Becky Irving, the head surgical tech at VCA Rock Creek Animal Hospital, has been helping and working with animals for many years. Through her job in the veterinary industry, she has helped thousands of pets. However, her main passion and biggest driver has always been Search and Rescue. Following that passion, Becky is currently the Canine Training coordinator for Mountain Wave Search and Rescue, and the Past President, and now on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Rim Bloodhound Club. Since joining the Search and Rescue team, Becky has trained several canines in the disciplines of trailing, air scent and Human Remains Detection. She has also responded to several incidents with her canine partners.

Ava - Search and Rescue dog

So on February 18th, 2017 Becky did not hesitate when called to respond to search for a missing 2-year old boy who had wandered out his front door and away from home in the cold Oregon weather. Becky took her German Shepherd named Ava who is trained in Wilderness Area Search and Human Remains Detection and joined the search party after the police had already searched for close to 6 hours with no luck.


It did not take long for Ava to catch the scent of the little boy and quickly led her handler straight to him.  The boy was shivering, crying and was only wearing a diaper and t-shirt, but found safe in a blackberry thicket. Thanks to the amazing abilities of Ava and the countless hours of training provided by Becky, this little boy is alive and safe.


Watch as police and rescue crews find 2-year-old River in some blackberry bushes in Northeast Portland, just a couple…

Posted by KATU News on Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ava, who is set to retire in a few weeks, enjoyed a nice steak dinner as a reward for her heroic efforts in finding the boy. Well deserved!

Several news outlets have also covered this story and interviewed Becky including Inside Edition, People and local news stations such as KATU. VCA is proud to have so many employees like Becky who are dedicated to not only caring for animals, but also training and working with them to complete the most important jobs which benefit so many.