The man and dog involved in a rollover crash Thursday evening in front of Fire Station 128 in Saugus are both preparing for surgery on similar injuries, according to family members.
Tarlena Owens’ son Ryan was driving home from the dog park with his Australian shepherd Genie Rez when the accident occurred, she said.
“He loves that dog,” Tarlena Owens said. “They are inseparable, they go to the dog park every day. It’s kind of ironic that they both have the same injuries — broken leg, internal bleeding, very bruised. They’re both in a lot of pain.”
Ryan was trapped in the vehicle for a little less than an hour as Los Angeles County Fire Department officials worked to extricate him. During that time, Owens was at home just three-blocks from the accident, she said.
“My son and I come home every night and we talk, then he takes the dog to the doggy park — this is a ritual every night,” she added. “He’s usually gone about an hour … All of a sudden it’s starting to get dark, he’s about 10, 15 minutes late, and I started to hear a helicopter.”
Owens was watching the news when all of a sudden she recognizes the car.
“I was blank; I didn’t know what to do,” she said. Her eyes welled with tears as one rolled down her cheek.
Both Ryan and Genie Rez were transported from the scene of the accident in separate ambulances. Ryan was taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in critical condition with a broken femur and many broken ribs, while Genie Rez went to Valencia Veterinary Center, with two broken legs and possible internal bleeding.
“We did not know if they were going to make it through the night, either one, so we’re a little better off now, but it’s just going to be a hard road of recovery,” Owens said. “(Ryan) is going to be having surgery Monday on his femur, he’s already had two surgeries, so we’ll know more from there.”
Valencia Veterinary Center worked to stabilize Genie Rez, and on Saturday, she was transported to another veterinarian, specializing in orthopedic surgery, in Woodland Hills to have surgery.
“She’s going to have surgery tonight,” Owens said. “I hope that I can get her home next week and then Ryan shortly afterwards. That’s the goal.”
Owens wanted to thank everybody for the support, and was even able to thank Michael Toepfer, the Los Angeles County Firefighter and K9 handler who stabilized Genie Rez and worked to keep her calm during the accident.
“I’m just doing what I can,” Toepfer said in response to Owens thanks. “It’s unfortunate that these things happen, but I’m glad that everyone’s okay and on the path to recovery.”
“I would like to say a big thank you to all the Santa Clarita community, the people at the Golden Valley dog park, who have reached out to many people, for any of the donations that I have heard have come into this veterinary hospital — thank you, thank you, thank you,” Owens added.
Unfortunately, the veterinary bills are already starting to stack up for Owens.
“I’ve got to be honest, I never thought of having emergency insurance on my dog, but my dog is one special dog and I guess I should have, but you don’t anticipate or expect anything like this to happen,” Owens said. “The dog is my family … whatever the cost, I’m going to have to figure it out, right? So here we are … and I need help.”
Family members have created a GoFundMe page for Genie Rez, and a number of donations have already come into the vet.
“The community here, Santa Clarita, it’s unbelievable how they’ve stepped up,” Owens said. “I expect to give back when I am able to, because this community is amazing and I’ve needed it. Anybody who is willing and able to help, I’m genuinely very grateful.”
To learn more or donate, visit gofundme.com/f/genierez-super-dog.