Strangers unite to save 'hopeless' dog stuck in tar pit, using grocery bags, car floor mats and their own bare hands to get him out

  • Tom George's dog Shelby got stuck by the Great Salt Lake's Spiral Jetty 
  • George had no cell phone reception and had to drive an hour to the nearest town for help  
  • But strangers who were planning to visit the famous earthwork sculpture instead spent over an hour to get the dog out 
  • Veterinarians removed 40lbs off Shelby, who has since recovered 

What was supposed to be a day spent visiting a famous earthwork sculpture soon turned into a massive rescue effort as 20 strangers joined forces to help rescue a dog out of a tar pit. 

With no cell phone reception to call for help, owner Tom George had to leave his dog Shelby stuck in a pool by the Great Salt Lake's Spiral Jetty and drive an hour out to the nearest  town. 

But, lucky for George, a family was willing to stay with Shelby - and only more and more strangers followed as they heard his story. 

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Twenty strangers joined forces to help rescue a dog named Shelby out of a tar pit he had gotten stuck in near the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake 

Twenty strangers joined forces to help rescue a dog named Shelby out of a tar pit he had gotten stuck in near the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake 

As more people came, they began bringing  items to try and help get Shelby out, using grocery bags, car floor mats, tarp, garbage bags, a straw hat and even bare hands

As more people came, they began bringing items to try and help get Shelby out, using grocery bags, car floor mats, tarp, garbage bags, a straw hat and even bare hands

'The whole time I was driving I kind of figured there was already a really good chance he was already gone,' George told Fox 13 Salt Lake City

And at first the situation looked 'pretty hopeless', according to Max McGregor, whose family stayed with the dog.

'I was pretty sure that the back legs, the way they were positioned, they were going to snap right where the knee was,' said McGregor's daughter Chloe. 

Todd Tanner, a Fox 13 reporter who was supposed to shoot video of the Spiral Jetty that day, said only Shelby's head was visible from the pit. He thought the dog was dying.

But then a family who was visiting the shoreline with a photography group came over to help. And a huge group of friends from Salt Lake City jumped in as well.

As more people came, they began bringing items to try and help get Shelby out, using grocery bags, car floor mats, tarp, garbage bags, a straw hat and even bare hands.

With no cell phone reception to call for help, owner Tom George had to leave his dog Shelby stuck by the Great Salt Lake's Spiral Jetty and drive an hour out to the nearest town

With no cell phone reception to call for help, owner Tom George had to leave his dog Shelby stuck by the Great Salt Lake's Spiral Jetty and drive an hour out to the nearest town

But the group was able to separate the dog from the tar, piece by piece, as they continued to put objects in to pit to keep Shelby from getting stuck again or from continuing to sink lower into the pool of tar 

But the group was able to separate the dog from the tar, piece by piece, as they continued to put objects in to pit to keep Shelby from getting stuck again or from continuing to sink lower into the pool of tar 

Shelby still couldn't move after he was freed from the pits, so five people helped carry him to the road and saw that George had come back just in time

Shelby still couldn't move after he was freed from the pits, so five people helped carry him to the road and saw that George had come back just in time

Max McGregor said that as they separated the dog from the tar piece by piece, they would continue putting objects in the pit to keep Shelby from getting stuck again or continuing to sink.

According to Tanner, no one in the newly-formed group 'knew exactly what to do', but they worked for over an hour together to find a way to get Shelby out.

'Total strangers talked, and worked, shoulder to shoulder, and figured it out,' he wrote in an exclusive for Fox 13 Salt Lake City. 

'They didn't know each other’s names, and they didn't care. They ruined their clothes, they interrupted their plans, and they made a memory to last a lifetime. And yes, they saved Shelby.' 

Shelby still couldn't move after he was freed from the pit, so five people helped carry him to the road and saw that George had come back just in time. 

Veterinarians had to work on Shelby for 6 to 8 hours that night and had to shave most of his hair off to remove more than 40lb of tar

Veterinarians had to work on Shelby for 6 to 8 hours that night and had to shave most of his hair off to remove more than 40lb of tar

George said that Shelby's brother Rue stuck to his side, even sleeping next to him that first night after the accident.Shelby (right) has since recovered and his once 'splendid coat' is growing back as well

George said that Shelby's brother Rue stuck to his side, even sleeping next to him that first night after the accident.Shelby (right) has since recovered and his once 'splendid coat' is growing back as well

Veterinarians worked on Shelby for 6 to 8 hours that night and had to shave most of his hair off to remove more than 40lb of tar.

George said that Shelby's brother Rue stuck to his side, even sleeping next to him that first night after the accident. 

Shelby has since recovered and his once 'splendid coat', as George described it, is growing back as well. 

As for his rescuers, they will always remember coming together to help Shelby.

'You know what the best part is, though? Everybody that heard came and brought something and tried to help, and everybody had ideas,' said Cathy McGregor.

'I mean there were 20 people out here trying to get this little dog out.'  

Shelby got stuck near the Spiral Jetty, an earthwork sculpture on a remote part of the Great Salt Lake's northeastern shore 

Shelby got stuck near the Spiral Jetty, an earthwork sculpture on a remote part of the Great Salt Lake's northeastern shore 

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