Animal Rescue

WATCH: Firefighters Rescue German Shepherd That Fell Down 30-Foot Hole in South Bay

The Dog is a veteran of a sheriff's department in Arizona, according to its owner

NBC Universal, Inc.

A German shepherd named Indy who spent hours at the bottom of a 30- to 50-foot hole in a South Bay backyard Wednesday afternoon was pulled to safety by firefighters.

The call to firefighters was made at around 2:30 p.m. Indy's owner said the dog is a veteran of a sheriff's department in Arizona.

NBC 7's Dave Summers explains how Indy got himself stuck, and how firefighters got him unstuck.

A large group of firefighters from the Bonita and San Miguel fire departments congregated at the scene with a ladder from a hook-and-ladder truck extended above them. Around 4:45 p.m., firefighters utilized a pulley affixed to the extended ladder, then dropped a rope down the hole and appeared to be attempting to use that to lasso the dog around its neck and bring it back up to the yard. Thirty minutes later, their efforts had been fruitless, and Indy was still marooned underground.

Apparently, the firefighters are prevented from going down the hole due to OSHA regulations, and they wouldn't let Indy's owner, Mark Pugh, harness up and go after him either.

"They wouldn't let me put on a harness and go get him, so ... [I'm a military veteran] I've done more stuff than that," he said, waiting anxiously as rescuers worked to save Indy.

Firefighters had to worry about possible injuries to Indy, plus possible injuries to their crew if the hole were to cave in, with recent rains in December and January increasing the threat of the latter.

"You couldn't put any personnel down into that situation. You couldn't put anybody down there. The ground was too unstable, there was no way to shore it up," firefighter Ken Gilden said.

Rescue efforts were also complicated by the fact that the hole didn't go straight down, and the fact that Indy had to look up at firefighters in order for them to loop their rope around his neck. Also worrisome: Firefighters were working against the darkness. By 6 p.m., night had descended.

The German shepherd Indy may have hurt his hips in the fall, but he's alert, NBC 7's Dave Summers reports.

Vince Carillo, the owner of the property since about 18 months ago, told NBC 7 he was unaware of the hole in his yard, which has a concrete pad around it. Scary, considering he has three small children and a dog of his own. He said he rents out part of his large property for dog owners who want to give their pups a space to run.

He said before Wednesday's incident, he'd booked around 120 different dog owners on his lot.

When firefighters finally secured Indy on the pulley, excitement at the scene began to ramp up. Rescuers began hoisting Indy and had him above the surface within seconds.

Indy, 9, came up with a few cuts and was covered in mud, but was alive and alert as he was loaded onto a canvas sheet and carried away to be taken to a veterinarian.

Immediately after the rescue, Pugh told NBC 7 his pup seemed to be doing OK. He said he's had Indy for about four years, and also has Indy's half-sister. The siblings were playing in the yard before Indy fell down the hole.

Contact Us