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Black lab rescued from drain pipe

Special Photo
Chris Painter, a maintenance supervisor for Henry County, assisted in efforts to rescue a dog from a drain pipe in Stockbridge. Painter and other county workers were recently recognized, by the Henry County Board of Commissioners.

Special Photo Chris Painter, a maintenance supervisor for Henry County, assisted in efforts to rescue a dog from a drain pipe in Stockbridge. Painter and other county workers were recently recognized, by the Henry County Board of Commissioners.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Lynn Payne said she is grateful for the combined efforts of neighbors and county employees, who recently helped rescue her dog, after he got stuck in a drain pipe in Stockbridge.

"I'm glad I live in Henry County," said the 53-year-old Stockbridge woman. "Everybody was gracious, kind, and warm. And, we care about each other."

Representatives from several county departments were commended this week by the Henry County Board of Commissioners, for their collective efforts in rescuing Payne's dog, a six-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Sebastian.

On April 7, Sebastian went missing from his home, near Atlanta Road, said Gerri Yoder, director of Henry County Animal Care and Control. She said her agency received a 911 call from Payne shortly after 9 p.m., on April 8, after the owner heard Sebastian's bark, while she was searching for him.

"She had done all the right things in trying to look for him," said Yoder. "She came to the shelter to see if he was here, and she made up a 'lost' flyer that we posted at the shelter. Apparently, at some point on Friday, she was walking the neighborhood to put 'lost' flyers up, and she heard him barking."

Yoder said Payne discovered the dog was 10 feet underground, 94 feet from the street, in an 18-inch drain pipe.

"Once she heard him, she took the manhole cover off the street, and got a small garden trowel, and she tried to dig him out of the pipe," Yoder said.

Representatives from Henry County Animal Care and Control, as well as the Henry County Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Transportation, and the water department lent their efforts to rescue the slightly overweight Sebastian. The task, said Yoder, proved difficult.

"The stormwater drain ran in between two houses," she said. "The exit end of the pipe was heading up toward the street. He got in about 200 feet. The pipe was full of thick, gooey mud.

"The exit end was pretty clear, but as he got further into the pipe, the depth of the mud increased," Yoder said. "There was no way for him to turn around. As he got mired in the mud, with his weight and size, there was no way he could back out."

Payne said although she has resided in Henry County since 1991, she did not know many of her neighbors well before Sebastian's episode.

Still, she said she appreciated the way the community came together to help her.

"During the process I was very upset, and tried to stay calm," Payne said. "Everyone was very helpful. It was just amazing. The ladies from Animal Control, and their husbands came out. A neighbor that lives across the street volunteered to crawl into the tunnel to try to rescue Sebastian."

Animal Control Director Gerri Yoder said county personnel worked for eight hours, in an attempt to extricate Sebastian. They finally maneuvered him out around 5 a.m., according to Yoder.

"I'm very proud to be involved in this Henry County family of employees," Yoder said. "They pulled together to do what they needed to do."

Yoder noted that Payne's neighbors also provided support in the rescue endeavor.

"These were neighbors that didn't know each other, and stayed up all night to lend assistance," said Yoder. "It was a testament to the community working together."