Rescue team: No dog, no animal found in storm drain



NORCROSS, Ga. - Animal control, neighbors and police spent hours trying to free what they believed was a puppy from a sewer drain in Gwinnett County. Turns out, there was no puppy or animal of any kind inside the drain.

Gwinnett police Cpl. Troy Tobler confirmed the results Saturday afternoon.

"As a followup to my earlier email about a dog possibly being trapped in a sewer on Balboa Court in Norcross, it has been determined that there was no animal in the sewer. Using some listening devices and accessing the main pipe visually, Gwinnett County Animal Control and fire department determined there was no animal in the sewer. The source of the sounds heard were most likely caused by sound traveling through the pipe that originated elsewhere," Tobler said.

Throughout the morning Saturday there were emergency crews and concerned neighbors staring down a sewer hole on Balboa Court. Friday night, someone reported hearing a barking dog inside the drain.

Animal control officer Colleen Head went in after the dog Saturday. She was also one of the first to go in after the dog Friday.

"I had a flashlight with me. I could just see the tunnel and the water and some debris. That was about it," she told Channel 2's Amanda Cook at the scene.

Other officers tried to help with the rescue.

"One of the firefighters was also stung several times and they weren't able to make much leeway, so they called it for the evening," Tobler said.

"I did what I could until 9 last night. Then came back this morning," Head said.

A tactical team was called in about 10:30 a.m. and brought in a thermal imaging camera to get a look inside the sewer.

"They were able to see from where the pipe begins at the creek all the way to the manhole and then from the manhole to the retention pond. And they were not picking up any heat signatures," said Gwinnett County Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge.

The results indicate there was no dog or animal of any kind inside the drain.

"To a lot of people, it may seem like a waste of time, but to me, it's not. It's something I need to know that it was not a dog trapped down in there," Head said.

Neighbors even dropped food under the concrete slab cover to give to the dog. One group told Channel 2 Action News they drove more than an hour away to save it.

"We used ropes and flashlights and shovels and we were determined. We were not leaving without this dog getting out of this thing," a woman said.

Gwinnett fire officials released the following statement, in part:

"This was pretty much a good intent call from a concerned citizen. Firefighters were thankful that there was no animal in need of rescue; and that they were able to address the issue on behalf of the community This was not a wasted call and amounted to a good training opportunity for the personnel involved. Firefighters benefit anytime they can use their tools and equipment in different settings. All fire department resources at the scene remained in-service throughout the incident and were available to respond to other emergencies if needed."

Channel 2 Action News

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