ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- Firefighters are known for battling fiery blazes, rescuing people from burning houses, and saving the occasional cat from a tree, but on Tuesday the firefighters of Rapides Fire District 2 assisted with the most intense animal rescue they've ever experienced. News Channel 5's Rachael Penton was there and caught the whole ordeal on tape, and she shows us what happened.
For the firefighters of Rapides Fire district 2 Tuesday wasn't spent fighting fires.
"The resident called back this morning when I was on duty and said the dog hadn't come out yet," says Chief Pete Saucier.
It all started right here in the backyard of John Flowers on Random Drive. He took his dogs out to play Monday night. One of them- a dog named Rainey, nicknamed Big Girl- wandered off here to an overgrown area behind his backyard.
"This bamboo comes alive at night, which the raccoons and possums and things," says Flowers.
John went to find the puppy and discovered she had gotten trapped in an underground hole. He couldn't get her out so he had to leave her there overnight. On Tuesday he called Rapides Fire District 2 and they went to work.
"I could reach in there and grab her paw but that was it," says Flowers.
Chief Saucier used a backhoe to tear down two fences to get to the hole that Big Girl was in.
Flowers used a chainsaw to clear a fallen tree from the area.
They used the backhoe to scoop away dirt.
Then the group began digging by hand- very carefully.
After even more digging by the crew, John was at last able to reach his pet and pull her out of the hole to safety.
"I have no words to explain it. I can't explain it. I felt very happy," says Flowers/
"It was a great feeling knowing that we saved that puppy. Seeing the emotions that the owner had and the great job we did and how proud he was of us. It makes you feel proud of yourself and the job you do," says firefighter and EMT Charles Lemoine.
For the firefighters it was the most intense animal rescue they've ever experienced, but they say it's just part of the job.
"We do a lot of different things for the community. We're basically public servants so whatever the situation arises we try to do our best and do what needs to be done," says Saucier.
It was a harrowing rescue, with a happy ending for all.
"They went above my expectations. I really didn't think it would happen today and I'm so happy that it did," adds Flowers.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for Big Girl it's a lesson learned.
"She's a hunter and it's born into her and I got to give her that much credit but she's got to learn that she can't come chasing and digging in these holes," says Flowers.
The heavy equipment you saw the firefighters use in the video was Chief Saucier's own personal equipment- which he volunteered for the job so they could get the puppy out.