Sunday, October 31, 2004

It took a village to free her

Lost spaniel rescued from storm sewer in Symmes Township

By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer staff writer

SYMMES TWP. - A 2-year-old Welsh springer spaniel named Lady should be called Lucky Saturday.

A dozen police officers, firefighters and sewer workers spent three hours rescuing her from a storm sewer in the Loveland-Madeira Road business district before the frightened canine was returned to her owner, less than a quarter mile away.

Motorists stopped to offer assistance. One man dropped off a bag of dog treats to try to lure Lady out of the 12-inch pipe that she had backed into. Loveland resident Shirley Malott, the smallest person on the scene at 5-foot-2 and 88 pounds, even climbed down into the sewer to try to coax Lady out of the pipe.

The dog was discovered around 11 a.m. in front of the Shoppes of Loveland strip center when an Enquirer reporter saw her trying to paw her way out of the sewer grate and called 911.

Malott, 52, is still grieving the loss of her 9-year-old Sheltie, Brandy, 10 weeks ago She felt she had to help.

"I lost her, and I don't want to see another dog get lost," Malott said. She offered to climb further into the pipe to pull the dog out, but police wouldn't allow it.

Even a dog bite didn't discourage Loveland K9 officer Jose Alejandro from sticking with the effort. Lady, after being flushed to the pipe's opening by several bursts of water from a fire hose, chomped down on Alejandro's right hand when he got a grasp on her ear.

"At this point, all bets are off. She's coming out of there," Alejandro said after having the injury bandaged by Loveland-Symmes paramedics. The injury would require stitches, he said.

After firefighters were called out to other emergency runs, a team from the Metropolitan Sewer District was dispatched to try to prod Lady out with a thick snake device. That didn't work, so they again resorted to a flush of water, eventually pushing Lady close enough to the opening so she could be pulled out - this time with heavily gloved hands.

The sludge-coated Lady, who was identified through her dog tags, was returned within minutes to her owner, Julie Griffith on Quailwoods Drive. Lady had disappeared Thursday evening, possibly escaping when the battery died on her electric-fence collar, Griffith said.

There was no telling how long Lady had been trapped in the sewer nor how she got there. When Deputy Andy Oppenheimer and Alejandro reunited Lady with her family, Griffith's husband was out checking Warren County for the lost dog. The family had almost lost hope.

Griffth thanked the many people who worked to rescue Lady.

"We feel very lucky. She's a special family dog," Griffith said.


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