Dog News

Dog Swims across Sava River Floods and Reunites with Owners

by Katherine

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Recent heavy rains in Serbia have flooded towns and forced area residents to evacuate. In Zabrežje, the Sava River crested and locals were relocated to a shelter in nearby Belgrade. However, families with pets were forced to leave their four-legged family members behind. Dona, a seven year-old mixed-breed dog, is one of many abandoned pets, however the pet was determined to get back with her family, and somehow she swam across the river, then walked a few kilometers into Boljevci and found her owners.

“That night when [the] water started to flood our village, my husband’s brother unchained his hunting dog and then he came to our house to unchain our Dona hoping that God will help them,” Divna Ćezban Ilić told Zivotinje.

Dona. Photo Credit: Zivotinje
Dona. Photo Credit: Zivotinje


Ćezban Ilić and her daughter Tanja were evacuated by helicopter and then took a bus to the shelter. Luckily, their family members in Boljevci welcomed them into their home and they finally had a warm place to call home. They were sad to know that Dona was not with them, and hoped their pet somehow survived the flood.

“We told [my husband’s brother] to unchain Dona [so] she could save herself because we were not allowed to take her into the helicopter,” said the pet owner. “He did that and told us that after that he didn’t see her anymore. A few days [later] he came here in Boljevci and when I told him that Dona is here with us he couldn’t believe it.”

Ćezban Ilić never dreamed of reuniting with her pet, but the canine on the other hand, was determined to get back to the only family she had ever known.

Days passed since the evacuation and the pet owners were sitting at a bus stop when suddenly Dona was spotted wondering near the bus stop.

“Dona came to us! I told my daughter, but Tanja couldn’t believe it. She told me ‘What’s the matter with you? Dona is in Zabrezje,'” remembers Ćezban Ilić.

Dona and Divna Ćezban Ilić. Divna Ćezban Ilić.
Dona and Divna Ćezban Ilić. Divna Ćezban Ilić.


As soon as the dog owner used Dona’s name  to address the wondering dog, the pet immediately came over to her with her tail wagging.

“I know her broken protruding ear. She doesn’t have a microchip implant but there’s no doubt – that’s my Dona,” said Ćezban Ilić. “We don’t know how she came here but first of all we are wondering why she came right to Boljevci!”

The dog had always been walked on a leash and she had never visited the family in Boljevci. No one knows for sure how the dog traveled from one town to the other, specially when the towns are divided by the Sava River (see picture). It is believed Dona swam across, or was pushed by the fast current from one bank to the other. There is a possibility that someone picked up the dog and drove her across, but no matter how, the dog made it her mission to find her family.

Divna Ćezban Ilić
Divna Ćezban Ilić

Due to lack of space, the canine can’t stay with her owners for now, but there is dog boarding in town and Dona will be staying there, receiving love and proper care, until her owners are able to find a home for all of them to live in.

It is incredible how this loyal pet risked her life to get back to her owners. Lets hope Ćezban Ilić , Tanja and Dona don’t get separated ever again.