Firefighters rescue dog trapped in underground tortoise den


by Jared Dillingham

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Posted on January 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 3:52 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. --- An aging black Labrador retriever found herself trapped for the weekend deep inside the den of a desert tortoise.

Sam, a 14-year-old lab, went missing from Jerry Schroer's Scottsdale home over the weekend. She's deaf and could not hear the family calling for her.

They cased the neighborhood before finally hearing a faint whimpering coming from a deep pit in the family's yard.

Their pet tortoise, Tiny, spent eight months digging a cave about 6 feet deep. Somehow Sam got in, but could not get out.

"My first reaction was to grab a hose for air, blow out the water, and start crawling down there, myself, to get her. But my wife stopped me there," Sam's owner told 3TV.

The Arizona Humane Society worked with fire crews from Phoenix and Scottsdale to devise a rescue plan.

Firefighters dangled upside down, crawled into the cave, hooked Sam up to a rope, and pulled her out.   
She was unharmed, aside from being a bit stiff.

"She's very mild-mannered and came out wagging," Schroer said.

He thinks Sam might have been after some tortoise food.

"She likes to eat watermelon rinds, and I'll throw them down the hole, so it's possible she went after those."