Dog in storm drain gets a lift from Prince George's rescuers

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Usually, as the story goes, it's a cat up a tree that firefighters rescue. But on Tuesday, it was a dog down a storm drain.

Prince George's County firefighters retrieved the chow-black Labrador retriever mix so residents wouldn't try to climb down 25 feet into the hole to save the animal, officials said.

Firefighters and medics were dispatched about 1:45 p.m. to Clark Avenue and Holly Street in Laurel after a resident reported hearing a dog crying at the bottom of a storm drain after he himself had nearly fallen in. The drain's cover, authorities said, had been displaced, apparently by a snowplow.

The rescuers had to decide whether to put themselves at risk trying to save the dog. If they didn't make the attempt, someone else would try to, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department.

"Compassionately, we always want to make the rescue, but we also have to bear in mind risks versus benefits," Brady said. "The way we look at it, if we leave, invariably there's going to be a citizen that goes down into that deep drain and attempts a rescue."

Pumping fresh air into the drain and constantly monitoring the air quality, firefighters lowered a rescuer down the drain using a rope-and-pulley system, Brady said. Fortunately, he said, the dog was friendly, and a rescuer was able to put a rescue harness and blanket on it and hoist it out. The operation took the rescuer about 10 minutes, Brady said.

The 40-pound, long-hair black dog was wet and cold but had no obvious injuries, Brady said. He said the dog had a collar but no tags. Anyone with information about its owner is asked to call the animal control facility at 301-780-7200.

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