When Indiana State Police trooper Allison Marlowe saw brake lights on Interstate 65 Sunday afternoon, the first thing she did was to look for the crash.
Then she heard about the dog.
More than 30 minutes later, Marlowe and at least five bystanders successfully coaxed a scared puppy to safety and brought an unusual traffic jam to a happy end, with the hungry dog scarfing down a bag of Pup-Peroni dog treats in the back seat of the trooper’s air conditioned car.
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Marlowe, a self-proclaimed “huge dog person” who joined the ISP in December, pulled up to the backup on southbound I-65 between the Ridge Road and 61st Avenue exits about 2 p.m. Sunday. When the call about a dog running loose on the highway came across her radio, she made her way to the front of the jam and found several people outside their vehicles peering under a tow-behind camper parked in the center lane. Traffic in all three lanes was at a standstill.
Under the camper, soaking in the cool, shaded concrete and avoiding the terrifying stream of traffic she had been darting in and out of earlier, was what Marlowe estimated to be a 4- to 6-month old large-breed puppy, scared to come out.
“There was nowhere (for the dog) to go,” Marlowe said.
Even before Marlowe got there, compassionate bystanders had filled a bowl of water for the pup and one witness said a passing bus driver had wrapped a belt around the dog’s collar as a makeshift leash. But no one could catch hold of the skittish canine before it took refuge under the camper.
That’s where Marlowe’s dog rescue tools came in handy. After a different call about a loose dog earlier in her brief career, the rookie trooper said she stocked up on supplies just in case the need arose.
“I would not say every (trooper carries dog treats) but there’s a good amount of them that do,” she said. “I’m like, ‘dogs are going to be persuaded with food’ so I got some treats, a collar and a leash … and it came in use (Sunday).”
To the bystanders who helped keep the dog safe, and the bus driver who sacrificed a belt before they had to leave the scene, Marlowe expressed her gratitude.
“They were hanging out trying to help and they didn’t want to leave,” she said. “I was thankful for them.”
Marlowe said the dog appeared undernourished and dehydrated but otherwise was in good spirits as she transported her to Lake County Animal Control, with the pup finishing the entire bag of treats on the way.
Animal control referred any inquiries about the dog’s condition or adoption status to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. A spokesperson did not have an update on the dog's status as of 1 p.m. Monday.
Traffic on I-65 backed up for several miles during the rescue effort, with vehicles eventually getting by on both shoulders. Delays reached as far back as Interstate 80/94, Marlowe said.
ISP and Marlowe said a witness who first reported the dog running across the highway also said they saw a van pull over and dump the dog. The department had no other information about the van or its occupants.