6 min read

Firefighters Had No Idea How They'd Save This Puppy Trapped In A Hole

“We had a goal. We were going to get her out no matter what.”

Early Thursday morning, the Evans family was taking their young puppy, MJ, for a walk when she suddenly disappeared.

As they approached the spot where seconds ago MJ had been standing, whimpers echoed from a previously unnoticed sewer drain, which was hidden by the grass and missing its cap.

At just a few weeks old, MJ had fallen into the hole and was quickly carried far from her family by water waste down the long pipe.

It had only been a few days since the puppy had come to live at her forever home, and the Evans family was already deeply attached to their newest member. Knowing that time was of the essence, they immediately reported the missing dog, and the Charlotte Fire Department of North Carolina rushed to the scene.

Charlotte fire fighters measure the hole that the puppy fell down
Captain Jackie Gilmore

Unfortunately, the rescue wasn’t as easy as everyone had hoped.

“They grabbed their shovels and started digging around the opening, hoping that it wasn’t that deep,” Captain Jackie Gilmore, a public information officer with the Charlotte Fire Department, told The Dodo. “But as they were digging, the drain got deeper and deeper and deeper, and they determined that they needed additional manpower and heavy equipment.”

A sewer drain that MJ the puppy fell in
Captain Jackie Gilmore

As rush hour traffic started to pile up, the Charlotte water department was called to assist with saving the tiny puppy from deep under the paved road. This wasn’t a simple matter of digging — it was full construction work.

To make sure MJ could breathe comfortably, the fire crew began to pump oxygen into the pipe.

“We took the same safety precautions you would take when digging a trench or trying to rescue somebody who’s stuck in a hole,” Gilmore said.

Fire department pumps oxygen for the puppy
Captain Jackie Gilmore

When the water department arrived, they threaded a camera down the hole, trying to pinpoint the puppy’s exact location. While the family was grateful to finally have a visual of MJ, the camera spooked the puppy, causing her to retreat further within the pipe and underground.

“We’re sticking a camera down there, and MJ doesn’t know what it is and she’s frightened, so she backs up and moves away,” Gilmore said. “We couldn’t stick anything down there to try and retrieve the puppy because she kept moving.”

MJ the puppy trapped in a sewer drain
Captain Jackie Gilmore

In order to reach the trapped puppy, rescue workers dug an 8-foot trench in the center of the street. When they finally reached the pipe, cutting a hole was a challenge — one wrong move and the puppy would flee even further into the sewage system.

But they were four hours into the rescue operation, and failure was not an option.

“We had a goal. We knew we were going to get MJ out, we just had to figure out how we were going to do it,” Gilmore said. “But we were going to get her out no matter what.”

A trench is dug to remove the puppy from the pipe
Captain Jackie Gilmore

When a rescue worker finally pulled a dirty, shaking MJ out of the small hole, a cheer erupted from both the workers and the crowd that had gathered. It was an especially emotional reunion for the Evans family, who held MJ close.

“It was a joyous moment when we were able to grab the pup,” Gilmore said. “There was a lot of jubilation — everybody was clapping and high-fiving. And the parents were so grateful toward the rescuers that they started hugging everybody.”

MJ the puppy reunites with the Evans family
Captain Jackie Gilmore

The puppy was rushed to the vet to be evaluated, and all is looking well for little MJ now.

While her introduction to the neighbors was perhaps a little more public than anticipated, it has earned her quite a few new fans.