Michael Leblanc, his wife Jennifer, and their daughter Emma were walking their four dogs on Jan. 5, when suddenly their new puppy, Callie, a shepherd/mastiff mix, took a leap, landing in the icy canal waters below.
Michael, “a genuinely great guy,” according to his sister-in-law, Nicole O’Connor, didn’t hesitate.
He jumped in immediately and pushed the pooch—a recent present for 16-year-old Emma—to safety.
Sadly, Leblanc ended up with no means of escape for himself.
“I think it happened very quickly,” O’Connor told ThoroldNews. “When it first happened, it was his wife and daughter trying to bring him back up. The problem is, there’s nothing to hold onto” in the canal. “They had the leash under his armpit and were trying to pull him back up, but it snapped and he fell back into the water.”
Fortunately, it was around 4 degrees that Saturday afternoon, she said, and not the extreme sub-zero temperatures that have been blasting Niagara this past week.
However, it was cold enough, and he was in the frigid water long enough that he eventually lost consciousness.
Family members are grateful for the rescue team of firefighters, police and EMS workers, who all pitched in to save him, “getting his pulse back and performing CPR,” before rushing him to St. Catharines Hospital, according to O’Connor.
Nearly a month after the traumatic incident, his family still surrounds his hospital bedside constantly, noticing “Little improvements every day, but he’s still on life support and trying to recover,” said his sister-in-law.
Leblanc has been “taken off the induced coma but hasn’t spoken yet and is not out of the woods. We will only know when he wakes up,” his true prognosis, she added.
The good news is, “He’s moving his hands and a little bit of blinking, so possibly, he might come back to us.”
The father of five children is 34 years old, said O’Connor.
“He came from a place of love. He loves all animals; all creatures.”
Meanwhile, Callie, the canine, has made a full recovery.
“She was a little off for two days, but okay now.”
As for the family, “Everyone is trying to take everything in stride. Everyone copes in their own way. We are all working to keep each other’s spirits up.”
O’Connor said they’re extremely thankful for “the amazing support from the community, as well as from family and friends.”
His inability to work has created a financial strain, so a friend created a GoFundMe campaign, to allow anyone who wants to help the family to make contributions.
To donate, follow the link: https://www.gofundme.com/praying-for-micheal