By Katy Savage
A Hartland dog is being called a hero after leading police officers to a serious crash on Interstate 91 in Hartford, where its owner was badly injured.
The New Hampshire State Police and Lebanon Police Department responded to a report of a loose dog on Veterans Memorial Bridge on I-89 above the Connecticut River around 10 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 3.
Lebanon Police Deputy Chief Matthew Isham said police attempted to corral the dog, a 1-year-old Shiloh shepherd named Tinsley, out of traffic, but when police approached it, it took off running west on the interstate, crossing from Lebanon, New Hampshire to Hartford, Vermont.
“The dog would run toward New Hampshire and then stop and then go to Vermont and stop,” Isham said.
The New Hampshire police continued to follow the dog to Vermont while waiting for Vermont authorities to arrive. As the Lebanon officers were turning around to go back to New Hampshire, police saw a damaged section of the guardrail near the Interstate 91 and Interstate 89 junction and then found a badly-damaged Ford 350 truck that had rolled over. Two men, Cameron Laundry, 31, of Hartland, and Justin Connors, 40, were lying in the snow.
“We stayed with them, gave them blankets, and gave them medical care [until Vermont authorities arrived],” Isham said.
Police said it was clear the “lost”dog was leading police to the accident. “The dog came down to where the two men were and just sat there once the medical people got there,” Isham said.
Police said Tinsley was not injured in the crash. “It’s the story of the year so far,” Isham said.
Tinsley made international news. She was featured in the New York Times and on popular social media platforms, including We Rate Dogs, an organization with more than 12 million social media followers, which takes submissions of videos, photos of dogs to be rated. Tinsley received the highest rating.
“It’s quite remarkable,” said Tinsley’s owner, Laundry, who declined to comment further, explaining he’s still recovering from the accident.
“I’m more worried about my friend that’s in the hospital,” Laundry said.
Laundry was driving home from a restaurant in New Hampshire just before the accident. He sustained minor injuries in the crash, including a concussion and a cut on his hand that required stitches. Connors remained in the hospital with a serious neck injury and a broken leg.
The crash is under investigation by the Vermont state police.
“It became national media before we got our press stuff out,” said Hugh O’Donnell, the lieutenant station of the Vermont State Police Royalton Barracks.
While New Hampshire police were quick to call the dog a hero on social media, O’Donnell wasn’t convinced that depiction of the crash was portrayed correctly given findings from the investigation.
“The dog saving the person, I’m not sure that’s accurate,” he said.
O’Donnell said a second dog in the truck, an American bulldog owned by Connors, was found dead on the side of the road by the Agency of Transportation the following morning.
O’Donnell said Laundry, who was driving, was issued a citation for DUI after failing dexterity exercises. The passenger, Connors, was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with serious injuries. O’Donnell said police were waiting on Laundry’s bloodwork and more charges may be coming. Laundry was issued a citation to appear in Windsor County Superior Court on Feb. 15 at 8 a.m.