Zoey has been with the Tankersley’s from the very beginning. The newlywed couple adopted the black lab mix from a shelter around Valentine’s Day circa 2007. A puppy then, she was considered their “first child.”
“She always had a sweet, low-key personality, so she has been great to our girls as they were born and growing up,” says dog mom, Andrea Tankersley. Not surprisingly, the girls were devastated when their sweet, fun-loving dog was found missing one morning.
Unbeknownst to the family, the Tankersley’s two dogs, Zoey and Amelia, got out in the middle of the night. When Amelia returned the next morning, Zoey was nowhere to be found. “We were really hoping she was somewhere out of the sun that day, or someone took her in because she’s old. It was hard knowing she was out there but we couldn’t find her,” recalls Andrea.
What would make the search for Zoey especially difficult was the fact the elderly dog has become deaf over the years.
The Tankersley family roamed the area searching for signs of their lost girl, and contacted neighbors and friends. “We saw people looking in and crawling into storm drains at the end of our street because they had heard an animal,” Andrea says. “We were hopeful it might be her.”
But with the sounds echoing throughout the pipes, it was hard to pinpoint where Zoey was. “We walked around quite a bit trying to listen for her, but eventually she stopped making noises.”
When the firefighters arrived, they sent down a robot with a camera to determine her location. “She was turned in the pipe like she had tried to turn around but gave up. It was hard to look at,” shares Andrea. “There was enough room, but by then she was too worn out.”
“We still aren’t sure how she got there,” Tankersley admits. “She was never a scavenger or chaser of rodents. Either she was able to walk into the storm drain a mile behind our house, or she really did lean into one by our street and fell in because her back legs aren’t very strong.”
It was too dangerous to send someone down after Zoey because the area was so small and tight. So, they received permission from the city to cut into the street and dig to the pipe. City workers had to cut into the street two different times because the pipe veered off course.
The poor dog, unable to hear reassurances from her family, was scared by the vibrations and kept inching away from her rescuers. Eventually, the robot was used to keep the dog still while Fire Crew 8 prepared to retrieve her.
It took the better part of the day and into the evening before they were close enough to attempt to bring her out. Originally, the firemen wanted to use something to help them move through the pipes.
“They surveyed the people around for a skateboard, thinking it could get them through easier. One of the police officers told the kid who volunteered his board that they would return it and purchase him a new one.” But there were pieces of concrete and other debris getting in the way, so the skateboard was only used for a short time.
Finally, a firefighter was able to army crawl through a cut section, well over 20 feet deep, to pull the dog out.
“They took her away in an ambulance, something the animal hospital doctor said she had never seen before. The crew on sight also put an IV in her paw, which they don’t normally do,” shares the grateful dog mom. “It just shows how awesome all the city crews are!”
The family reports Zoey is doing well. She escaped the storm drain without any broken bones; all the doctor had to address was some low blood sugar. “She sleeps a lot and her back legs don’t work too well getting up, but that was just like before. She’s really tough for an old lady,” chuckles Andrea.
“We were overwhelmed by everyone wanting to help out. And the crews that came out, all that they did, it was surreal. I mean, you see firefighters saving cats in movies, but I really thought those were just stories!,” Tankersley gushes. “They treat animals like people. They were all amazing!”
“We just want all the attention on the crews of Arlington: the police, Fire Rescue 8 (the crew that cut into the ground and crawled to get her out), the city workers who helped cut open the street, and the utilities department and animal control who were out there all day. And, of course, the neighbors who offered their help and scoured the neighborhood and pipes to find her. Arlington is a great place to be!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by The Tankersley’s of Arlington, Texas. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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