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Firefighters and city crews help save puppy stuck in sewer pipe

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Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 12:00 am

SEGUIN — She could be called Trouble or Lucky. But her name was almost Mud.

Fire and city facilities crews worked for hours to free a puppy trapped in a pipe under the floor at Seguin Animal Services on Friday.

Leah Lewis, Animal Services supervisor, happened to come to work early on Friday only to hear sounds of distress coming from the kennel area.

“The puppy was just screaming,” she said. “The panic just set in, it’s just a little baby and you don’t know what to do. You just want her to get her out to safety.”

The three-week-old pup and her brother, part of a litter of seven pit bull/shepherd mix puppies, managed to squeeze through a tiny opening in the door of their kennel, under a two-inch grate and set out to explore a drain pipe. While Lewis was able to reach into the pipe for the male puppy, the female was too far under the floor.

“I called the fire department, hoping they might have some tips or something,” she said. “I started describing the situation and you could hear the puppy screaming in the background. They just said, ‘Why don’t we come on over there?’”

Firefighters were joined by city facilities and water crews who, after locating the dog using the wastewater department’s sewer cameras, chipped up the floor until she could be safely accessed. The pup was removed uninjured and returned to her anxious mother and littermates.

Gerald Weniger, Seguin Fire battalion chief, said the work took around two hours, once the camera was brought in to locate the puppy.

“We could hear her in the pipe, but didn’t want to tear up the pipe and end up right on top of it,” he said. “Sometimes we rescue puppies from storm sewers and things, but as far as I know, this is the first time we had one in a sewer line. You just hate to see anything happen to it, it’s only a puppy. As long as we can get to it, we were going to try for it.”

Using an air chisel and hammer drill, the firefighters and city workers — by then, dirty, wet and exhausted — were able to remove areas of floor carefully and gradually, so as not to endanger the puppy.

Seguin Police Support Services Capt. Maureen Watson came over the shelter as well, not because police presence was required, but just because she was worried about the pup. While believe the city shelter is not a caring place, Watson said, the kill rate is down in the last few years and Lewis and her staff do everything they can to ensure the animals’ adoptability and safety.

“We love every single animal here and always want to make sure they’re safe,” Watson said. “Leah was ready to do whatever she had to to save that puppy. And the firefighters, facilities and wastewater employees were all wonderful. I’m so glad there was a happy ending.”

Lewis said no animal at the shelter has ever attempted an exploration — or escape — quite like that one.

“We’re going to be putting in a plug into the kennel drains after we finish cleaning each day so that this never happens again,” she said.

Lewis said the pups were born at the shelter and the whole family will be ready for adoption in four to five weeks. While one of the firefighters wanted to call the wandering animal Lucky, Lewis said she had another idea.

“I think we should name her Trouble,” she said, with a smile.

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