Sometimes you just need a story with a happy ending, and Saturday’s saga of Coonhound “Tramp” was a perfect example of cooperation and tenaciousness as FVFD, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, County Highway Department and three local businesses — A-1 Whitaker’s Sewer & Septic of Alexandria, Watson’s Excavating and Delmolino Plumbing, both of Anderson — came together to rescue one very stuck dog.
The story started on Friday evening when Gordon Mott’s Tramp, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, was so intent on following a raccoon that she followed it right into one of the field drainage tiles that run under much of the county. She wriggled so far into the 10-inch clay pipe that she got stuck, leading Mott to spend most of the night trying to locate her and dig her out. Thankfully, she was wearing a GPS tracking collar, so he knew what area she was in, but by the early morning hours on Saturday, he’d been unable to retrieve her.
FVFD’s involvement started when dispatch radioed Fire Chief Rob Amick to see a man about a dog near the intersection of 500W and 500N. Initially, he had trouble locating Mott, but between Amick and the Sheriff’s Department, they were able to locate the worried owner and evaluate the situation, and it was quickly clear that this was going to require specialized resources that the fire department couldn’t provide on its own. This rescue, if it was going to happen, was going to require people with the experience and the equipment to search and excavate the drain pipe.
A-1 Whitaker was the first company to get the call and they responded with staff and equipment, including a camera that could run through the drain tile to locate the missing dog. Delmolino Plumbing and Watson’s Excavating soon had people on-site to help, and MCSD brought in an additional camera normally used by the SWAT team to assist in the location effort. Once rescuers had a clearer idea of Tramp’s location, Shawn Watson and his crew started carefully excavating a trench towards the trapped hound.
The rescuers worked through cold pouring rain, without even knowing, in the early stages, if Tramp was still alive. Hope and determination kept them going, and after excavating along about 60 feet of drain tile, they reached her. Some final hand digging and gentle persuasion from Mott brought the cold, tired four-year-old hound out into the daylight, where she was greeted by a crowd of smiling rescuers and one very relieved owner. Mott and Tramp were quickly transported out of the field to the road so that Tramp could be checked over by a local veterinarian, and all of the crews packed up and headed out of the muddy field with triumphant smiles, satisfied that their cold gray Saturday morning had its happy ending.
Photos by Scott Matson and Rob Amick of FVFD.