GREAT FALLS — Cody Yurek thought the mound under a power line he was patrolling early Tuesday in sub-zero temperatures and snow was an animal carcass - until the mound started wiggling.
NorthWestern Energy said in a news release that Yurek is the Belt town manager for the utility company and was conducting an annual maintenance patrol of the remote line when he found the dogs near Spring Creek Road and US Highway 89.
“It turned out to be three shivering puppies. You could see the ground was thawed out where they had slept,” Yurek said.
The husky-mix pups were healthy but lost in the middle of nowhere.
“I couldn’t just leave the little buggers,” he said.
After some coaxing, he got the puppies into his warm vehicle and headed back to town.
“I got them some dog food and water and then called the chief of the Belt Rural Volunteer Fire Department Travis Johnson to ask for help finding their home,” Yurek said.
“We have a great relationship with Cody and with NorthWestern Energy in general, so I always take his calls,” Johnson said.
But this time, instead of a report of a vehicle crash discovered during a line patrol or an alert about a downed power line, Yurek had good news to share.
The puppies continued to warm up in an office at the fire hall, and with the help of a Facebook post, they were reunited with their owner within an hour.
“The owner said she’d let the puppies out Monday night with an adult dog who returned without them,” Johnson said. “She was pretty darn happy to see them.”
Yurek has been the Belt town manager since 2010, overseeing a large area that includes the Monarch and Neihart areas. The fire department often enlists his help to guide them to remote areas for backcountry rescues and other emergencies.
“He’s always hustling and I think this says a lot about him, how he took the time to round up three freezing puppies,” Johnson said.