The sound of barking underneath a street Tuesday led a team of city workers to a dog trapped in a narrow culvert — and you might say they used a backward approach to rescue the mutt.
The sickly, scared dog was about 50 feet from the nearest entry point, but since the culvert was just 15 inches in diameter, the workers couldn't fit into it themselves. Not even offers of food could draw out the dog.
"He was exhausted," said Tony Talamantez, a public works foreman.
Then Talamantez and his colleagues had an idea. They rigged up a long video camera used to inspect drain pipes, and approached the dog from the back. They used the camera to nudge the dog forward until he reached an entry point big enough for a person to pull him out.
The camera recorded the rescue, showing the dog scampering ahead in fits and starts as the camera pokes him in the rear end.
Found after missing for a day
The dog wore no tags, only a worn collar. But Julia Gosen, animal control officer for the city, said the dog's owner saw accounts of the rescue in local media and claimed him Wednesday morning.
The owner "had no idea" how the dog ended up in the drain, Gosen said. "He said he'd gone missing from their house about a day earlier."
City workers weren't sure how the dog, a 13-year-old lab named Max, got into the sewer. They said cats, raccoons and ducks often end up in storm sewers, but Talamantez said it was the first time he'd helped rescue a dog in his 25 years with the city.
"Max got very excited when he saw his owner," Gosen said.