A hiker has suffered severe burns and his two pet dogs have died, after the animals jumped into a hot spring in Idaho and the owner attempted to save them.
The man, who has not been publicly named, was walking his dogs in the Panther Creek Hot Springs – usually warm enough for human bathing - when they leaped into the water.
One animal died instantly at the Salmon-Challis National Forest on Thursday, prompting the owner to attempt to rescue the other, according to the authorities.
The second later died from its injures after it was rushed to a vet for emergency treatment.
A US Forest Service firefighting crew who were in the area at the tended to the man, and arranged for a medical helicopter to fly him to a hospital for treatment of severe burns, according to police.
Lemhi County Chief Deputy Sheriff Steve Penner said that forest visitors are advised to test the temperature of hot springs before entering the water, but that the injured hiker acted on instinct in an attempt to save his dog.
Panther Creek Hot Springs is usually a popular bathing spot which attracts dozens of visitors each year, thanks to its location around 50 miles (80km) northwest of the tourist town of Salmon in east-central Idaho.
However, the temperature of the water has risen dramatically, possibly due to drought conditions that have staved off flow of cool water that normally mixes with the springs' geothermally heated groundwater, forest spokeswoman Amy Baumer said.
Scientific facts about dogs
Scientific facts about dogs
1/5 Your dog is ancient
The domestic dog originated from wild European wolves in the Stone Age before the development of farming, when humans hunted and gathered their food, according to a genetic analysis of ancient canine remains.
2/5 Your dog really does love you
Scientists in California found that domesticated animals release the 'love hormone' oxytocin in intimate situations
3/5 A dog reacts to laughing like you do
Research has found that the brain of a dog reacts in the same way as the human brain when played sounds including laughing and crying.
4/5 Your dog recognises you
Results, from a recent study published in the journal Animal Cognition, suggest dogs might have facial recognition skills similar to humans.
5/5 Your dog communicates with his tail
Scientists have learned that dogs signal to other dogs via their tails in ways hidden from humans. The Italian team showed dogs videos of other dogs whose tail wagging was more pronounced in one direction than the other. When dogs saw another dog wagging more towards the left, their heart rates picked up and they began to look anxious. Dogs shown wagging to the right stayed relaxed.
Ken Gebhardt, a district ranger, said that forest managers do not believe that a similar incident has ever taken place in the 107-year history of the Salmon-Challis.Reuse content