Firefighter pet owner revives his dog with CPR

dvm360dvm360 November 2023
Volume 54
Issue 11
Pages: 22

Used his human medicine skills to save the pup after she drowned in the swimming pool

Andy and Kim Brocchini, and their son Will walked up to a horrifying scene for pet parents. They found their dog Whitney, a 3-year-old Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix, floating unresponsive in the family's swimming pool.

Whitney was successfully revived by CPR and treated by UC Davis Emergency and Critical Care Service. (All images photo courtesy of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)

Whitney was successfully revived by CPR and treated by UC Davis Emergency and Critical Care Service. (All images photo courtesy of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)

Will brought his pups over that day to visit so there were 4 other larger dogs in the backyard. Though Whitney is usually a good swimmer, they assumed she was accidentally knocked into the water and caught under the bigger dogs.

Will first dove in to retrieve Whitney from the pool. “Whitney had no pulse when Will pulled her from the water,” Andy said, in a University of Davis release.1 “She was not breathing, and her eyes were open and fixed – totally unresponsive.” As an EMT/firefighter with the City of Sacramento for about 30 years, Andy has significant experience performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on humans. Also, by chance, he looked up how CPR is performed on pets just a few months prior when their other dog was suffering from trouble breathing because of a collapsed trachea.

After a dedicated 10 minutes of performing CPR, Whitney took a breath, aspirating blood but still unresponsive. For doing CPR on a pet for the first time ever this was impressive as Mariana Pardo, BVSc, MV, DACVECC, pointed out in a dvm360 interview that the success rate for recovering patients that need CPR depends on factors such as how quickly you start performing CPR and the quality of that CPR.2

They quickly drove Whitney to the closest veterinary clinic, where she was diagnosed with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema (fluid in lungs) and aspiration pneumonia/pneumonitis.1 The clinic stabilized her, however the damage to her lungs needed more intensive care and hospitalization so she was transferred to UC Davis’ emergency animal hospital.

Andy and Kim Brocchini with Whitney in San Francisco.

Andy and Kim Brocchini with Whitney in San Francisco.

“I went to our fire station and got oxygen and a dog mask, and we gave her oxygen all the way on the 45-minute drive to Davis,” Andy said. “The team at UC Davis took her immediately and got to work.”1

Whitney was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and treated by Karl Jandrey, DVM, MAS, a board-certified critical care specialist and the team of technicians and veterinarians. At first, she was found to be in significant respiratory distress but fortunately did not require mechanical ventilation. X-rays revealed extensive inflammation and bruising in her lungs, which is usual from drowning and receiving CPR. She was maintained in an oxygen-rich environment for 6 days to improve her lung function.1

“I was practically crawling inside that oxygen cage to be with her and comfort her when we were allowed to visit every day,” said Kim, in the release.

She experienced gradual improvement during the week. Follow-up X-rays displayed about an 80% improvement, and an arterial blood gas analysis showed that her lung function improved to nearly 95%.1 Thus, she was slowly weaned off the oxygen to room air.

“The team in the ICU did phenomenal work,” said the Brocchinis. “We are so grateful for the way they treated us and Whitney. We were so impressed with the level of professionalism, the equipment, the facilities – everything was top notch.”1

Whitney’s spirits were lifted as her pet owners brought her favorite snacks and the veterinary team provided 24/7 care. She was then permitted to continue recovery at home.

“I really appreciated that Dr Jandrey called every day to give us an update,” Kim added. “He even came in on his day off to discharge Whitney and see us.”

At a follow-up exam 5 weeks later, the Brocchinis shared that Whitney’s activity level and appetite gradually improved each week to a near normal level by the final week. The examination was normal, X-rays revealed significant improvement with only one small scar remaining on her lungs.1 Her lung function was 100% normal once again. Jandrey recommended that Whitney continue to return to normal activity and be challenged to pursue fun activities as well.


  1. Warren R. Owner revives dog with CPR after drowning. News release. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. September 14, 2023. Accessed September 15, 2023.
  2. McCaffery C, Burke J. How common is it for pets to need CPR? dvm360. May 5, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2023.
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