On the morning of July 16, Long Island-based lawyer and animal rescue volunteer Mark Freeley took an earlier-than-usual walk to the beach with his dogs Storm and Sara.
Though their typical outing involves swimming and chasing after skipped rocks, something entirely different would capture the attention of Storm, a Labrador Retriever, on this visit.
After turning a bend, Freeley says Storm swam into the water “with a mission,” heading towards an animal about 100 feet from the shore. It was a fawn, scared and struggling in the ocean.
While Storm didn’t quite know what to do at first, Freeley says the dog’s instincts kicked in and he gently took the deer by the mouth to lead it to shore “like a lifeguard who puts the arm around the neck of the person they are saving.”
Freeley caught the incredible moment on camera, in which he’s heard repeatedly encouraging Storm as the 6-year-old dog does everything he can to help the injured animal.
In the video, the deer drops down on the shore, exhausted, while Storm lies next to it and nudges the animal to keep moving. And the ordeal didn’t end there.
The disoriented fawn eventually wound up running back into the water, leading Freeley to call on fellow volunteer Frank Floridia of Strong Island Rescue Animal League to help get it to safety.
After an exhausting but successful rescue effort, the 3-month-old deer was taken to Save the Animals Rescue Foundation for rehabilitation.
Lori Ketcham, a volunteer caretaker and director of the organization, tells Pet Central that the deer is doing relatively well despite suffering from a variety of issues, including tick bites and subcutaneous emphysema.
Storm’s newfound friend is eating and drinking, Ketcham says, and though he’s a bit shaky on his legs, they are hoping for a full recovery.
The unlikely rescue has touched a nerve with people all over the world, and the video, which was originally posted on Freeley’s Facebook account, has garnered over 3 million views in just two days time. Freeley says he’s been getting tearful phone calls from people far and wide who are just proud of Storm. “He’s that good of a dog,” he says.
Aly Semigran is a lifestyle writer for the world, and roommate of Ruby, the cutest dog in the world.