A three-year-old girl who went missing from her home was kept alive on a freezing night by her dog – which curled up with her to share his warmth.
Little Julia and her dog Czarus went for an impromptu and unannounced walk from their home in Pierzwina, on Friday March 1, at about 5pm. When her disappearance was noted, emergency services were called in, and a massive search of the area began.
The girl was discovered, in a forest ditch 3km from her home, at around 6.45am on March 2. Volunteer fire fighters had decided to comb that specific area ‘on instinct’, and struck lucky when Czarus spotted them and barked.
Grzegorz Szymoński, head of the detachment of volunteer fire fighters from Brzeźnica, described the moment they found Julia:
“We heard a sound like crying, but we were not sure it was not an animal. We listened to the sounds and walked in their direction.
“Julia was in the reeds in the woods, sitting in the water. The dog didn’t bark to deter us, it was happy. All night it had lain on her legs.”
Mr Szymoński added: “It was for us a very long night. The main thing is that everything ended well.”
Sławomir Konieczny, of Lubuska police, said that Julia was conscious, soaked and freezing, but that her general condition was good. She was taken first to a police cruiser and then passed into the care of medics who took her to hospital. There, doctors said she had frostbite, but the severity is not yet known.
Mr Konieczny added: “For their participation in the action, alongside 180 Lubuskie police officers, I would like to thank the fire fighters and volunteers, and professional rescuers with dogs, especially from Wrocław and Poznań. Also, the volunteer fire fighters from Brzeźnica, the Red Cross Rescue Group, Pierzwina residents and those from neighbouring towns, and all those not mentioned, who together ensured that this difficult operation succeeded.”
At the height of the search, there were almost 200 police officers, 100 fire fighters and 300 volunteers combing the countryside near the city of Zielona Góra. A helicopter equipped with thermal imaging cameras, and sniffer dogs, were also called in to help. Roads were blocked to secure the area, as searchers battled thick, wet mud, uneven ground and temperatures of minus four degrees Centigrade.
Left: The volunteer fire fighters who found Julia (Grzegorz Szymoński, Jan Sowiński, Damian Chabiniak, Dawid Chabiniak, Wojciech Toczka and Jan Nowak). Image – OSP Brzeźnica.
Right: Czarus – hero of the hour. Image – Piotr Jędzura.
Front: Searching for missing Julia. Image – Lubuska police.