A St. Louis fire department crew that specializes in rescue missions worked for more than four hours Thursday to try to save five puppies that had fallen into an underground pipe.
The mixed breed puppies fell about 15 feet down a sewer vent pipe from a garage behind a house in the 1500 block of East DeSoto Avenue, St. Louis fire department battalion chief James Wedemeier said. The pipe is about 6-inches in diameter.
By 8:30 p.m., three of the puppies had been safely rescued, one was pulled dead from the pipe and one was still trapped.
The puppies, believed to be pit bull mixes, likely fell into the pipe sometime overnight, Wedemeier said.
Firefighters, many of them specially trained in rescuing people and animals during building collapses or from tight spaces, used ropes, cables and the assistance of two Roto-Rooter sewer technicians in the rescue effort.
The crew used a sewer "snake" cable with a small mounted camera to see the positioning of the trapped puppies inside the pipe and tried to coax them toward the opening. The two puppies who were rescued were pulled to safety with ropes, Wedemeier said.
Fire crews periodically work animal rescue calls, Wedemeier said, usually a couple a year. Many of the firefighters at the scene Thursday had rescued an adult dog from a pipe during the winter.
In March 2009, firefighters saved a man who had fallen about 15 feet down a sewer manhole in an alley south of the 5400 block of West Florissant Avenue, near Calvary Cemetery. Wedemeier said members of the puppy rescue team were participants in that rescue.
"We'll do whatever we can," Wedemeier said. "But we also have to be reasonable."
When a residence fire call came out during the rescue, Wedemeier sent several members at the puppy scene to the fire. The fire department prioritizes calls based on severity and resources, he said, adding that animal rescues are part of the job.
The status of the surviving puppies likely will be determined by the Humane Society of Missouri or the city's health department.
- St. Louis firefighters rescue puppies from sewer pipe; one pup still missing - Examiner