First responders constantly put their lives on the line to keep us safe. These jobs are never easy, but they are rewarding beyond measure. Every day is different; there is no way of knowing what these workers will be seeing from one shift to the next. A group of firefighters from Colorado knew this all too well. When they got a call about some animals in distress, they assumed it was a cut-and-dry rescue. However, several hours later, it dawned on them that they got the situation wrong. The small helpless animals that they rescued were actually not puppies…
1. The Grind
Being a firefighter is no joke. These men and women put themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis, in order to assist the people in their communities. Sometimes these workers find themselves in burning buildings, and other times they’ll find themselves at the scene of a crime or accident. They work in sun, rain, sleet, and hail, focusing on saving as many lives as they possibly can. It doesn’t matter what the situation is—they are trained to seek out danger and do everything they can.
2. Certain People
Obviously, becoming a firefighter is for a specific type of person. You need to stay in great physical shape at all times, and you have to be very brave. In some instances, these men and women see very terrible things, and they have to be able to move forward and work another day no matter what happens. This is why we are so appreciative of people in the first responders sector. However, it’s not just humans that first responders assist.
3. Humans and Animals
Some of the jobs that a firefighter has to take care of on a daily basis include cleaning the fire station, doing everyone’s laundry, making meals for one another, and cleaning the fire truck. When duty calls, their jobs include putting out fires, assisting victims, and assisting other first responders. However, in some cases, firefighters aren’t called to help people—they’re called to help animals! It’s true—sometimes it is the animals of this world who seek the help of first responders.
4. Our Furry Friends
Firefighters can probably name hundreds of situations where they’ve been called to a situation involving animals. In some cases, the animal is trapped in a fire, or perhaps they’ve gotten stuck up in a tree! In many situations, firefighters are equipped with the tools necessary to help animals out of sticky situations. Similarly, some people don’t feel comfortable helping animals they don’t know, and this is when firefighters can step in. There are all kinds of animals who have gotten the help of firefighters.
5. Not Just Cats
Most of us picture firefighters crawling up trees to rescue cats, but this is only one of the many animals they assist. There are lots of domesticated animals that become trapped in dangerous situations, including dogs, hamsters, lizards, birds, and more. Firefighters aren’t really trained to deal with exotic animals, but in the case that they have to respond quickly, they’ll even save these exotic creatures from fire! Every animal is treated equally when they need the help of a first responder.
6. Colorado Springs Fire Department
At the Colorado Springs Fire Department, it was just another day. Everyone was busy taking care of their tasks, and everyone was on high alert. Every single worker always had to be ready in case the alarms went off. If they did, all of the members working that shift would need to gather their belongings, put on their uniforms, and head to the truck. Obviously, every day was different from the next and none of them could ever anticipate what their day would look like.
7. Cold March Day
It was March, so the weather was still pretty chilly in Colorado. During the winter months, the firefighters were usually less busy. In the warmer summer months, there tended to be more accidents, and more fires started because of the heat. However, the team was always ready for anything. Fires could start at any time, so they remained alert. None of them ever imagined that this would be the day that they got the surprise of a lifetime.
8. The Alarm
That afternoon, when things were pretty quiet around the station, the alarm bell suddenly rang out loud and clear. Members from all over the station headed to the garage, where all of their uniforms were waiting for them. They hopped up and into the truck, and took off for a destination not far from them. The team was updated by their leader as they made their way to the scene. Each man and woman wondered what could be going on in downtown Colorado.
9. No Fire
The team was initially told that they wouldn’t be facing any fires today. The call wasn’t about a fire problem, so they were at least prepared for that. The leader explained that a woman had called about some animals that were in distress; she could hear them calling out, but she could not see them. The animals had become trapped in the downtown area, and no one knew what to do about it. This was a case for the firefighters and all of their handy equipment.
10. What Kind?
The men and woman asked their leader what kind of animals they were dealing with, but no one knew. The woman who had called didn’t have the slightest idea of what animal she was dealing with, only that it was definitely in distress. At this point, the firefighters had to be very careful. Not knowing what kind of animals they were dealing with made this whole situation a lot more dangerous. Was it cats? Was it bears? There was a huge difference!
Animals were a tricky thing, since they weren’t able to communicate verbally. There were all kinds of factors that would contribute to how this interaction went down, including whether the animal was domesticated or wild. Some domesticated animals were more willing to let people help them; wild animals, on the other hand, could be angry and dangerous. This was especially true if the wild animal was in danger, or in pain. The team would need to arrive at the scene before they could decide.
The men and women on the truck went over their protocol for dealing with animals. By doing so, it was more likely that both the humans and the animals involved would remain safe. All that they knew at this point was that there were multiple animals, and that they were in some kind of trouble. Since the woman couldn’t see the creatures now, there was a good chance they were stuck somewhere. The team arrived at the scene and piled out of the truck.
13. The Sewers
The firefighters arrived and met with the woman who had called them. She brought them to the area where she could hear the animals, and explained everything that had happened thus far. The woman was standing beside a large storm drain. She told them that if they listened closely, they would be able to hear the animals down below. They were crying, and sounded very distressed. The firefighters were grateful that it wasn’t the rainy season, else these creatures surely would have washed away by now.
14. A Crowd
The area had already gained a few curious viewers, and they too were standing by the sewers talking about what should be done. Now that the fire department was here though, a larger crowd started to gather. When people see a fire truck, they often assume it’s because of a fire or someone in a dangerous situation. However, this time around, people were confused as to why the team was simply standing around a drain.
15. Back It Up
The firefighters could see the crowd growing, but this was the opposite of what they wanted. They didn’t want the animals in the sewer to hear all of the ruckus above and somehow escape further down the sewer! They wanted the animals to stay in one place. The being said, all of the people were told to clear out, and to go about their regular business. They were saving some animals, and there was nothing else to be done.
16. A Cold Place
Not surprisingly, the sewer drain was deep, dark, and cold. It was certainly no place for any animal, and the cold Colorado weather made it that much worse! No matter what kind of animal was down there, the firefighters wanted to act quickly. If the animals had been in there for a long time, there was no telling how much longer they could manage to survive. The team got to work on opening up the sewer grate from the road.
17. A Small Space
The grate itself that was protecting the manhole had very small openings in it. Since it was the only way for the animals to get in, the firefighters had to assume that these creatures were quite small. In addition, the cries that they could hear down below sounded small and high-pitched. Was it babies that they were dealing with? Based on the process of elimination, it had to be. This meant they had to work even faster.
18. Running Out of Time
Because the animals were likely babies, this meant that they were probably tiny, and easily affected by the colder weather. In addition, they may need the milk from their mother for sustenance, which they obviously wouldn’t be getting down there. If they had only just been born recently, they’d need these important things as soon as possible. If the woman called any later, they may not have heard any sounds at all. The thought of the animals fighting for their lives made them work faster.
19. Opening the Lid
The firefighters had to use some strong equipment to lift the sewer grate from its place. One of the first things they did was prepare for an animal to leap out at them. Although it was a deep sewer, an animal that was fully-grown may have reacted quickly and tried to jump out. Without knowing what kind of creature they were dealing with, they had to make sure they kept a safe distance from the entry point.
20. No Animal
When no animals tried to escape from the sewer, the team knew that they were dealing with much smaller animals. They were able to approach the entry to the sewer and get a better look at what they were dealing with. Hearing the small sounds of the animals assured the team that they were in fact dealing with animals that were very young. They could barely see the creatures at the bottom, but they knew that they were there.
21. Animal Predictions
Based on the location of the animals, the firefighters were totally perplexed as to what kind of animal they were dealing with. It didn’t make sense that this would be a domestic animal; cats and dogs rarely gave birth in locations like this, and they normally wouldn’t stray so far away. Additionally, a domesticated animal would have been very distraught about their babies being stuck in a sewer. They’d likely be hanging around, and even trying to get help from humans!
22. Wild Dogs?
If they weren’t domesticated, then the animals had to be wild. However, the sewer was in the middle of the city, and it was a bit of a ways away from any forest or mountains. If it was a wild animal, it didn’t make much sense either! Had the animal gotten lost just as it was about to give birth? Was it running away from something? What exactly was this team dealing with? It was too hard to know at this point.
23. Looking for Clues
The team had to figure out what kind of animal they were dealing with. Doing so would tell them how to handle the animal, and it would tell them what the next steps would be. In order to get some more clues about the creatures, some of the team members started to scour the area. They were looking for one thing in particular: the mother. In most cases, a mother never strays too far from her babies.
24. The Mother
If the crew could find the mother, they would have their answer about the type of animal they were saving! The team wandered around local streets looking for an animal that would be out of place. They checked exposed garbage, dumpsters, and alleyways for hiding spots. However, as much as they looked, they couldn’t seem to find any stray or wild animals. How were they supposed to find a creature that obviously didn’t want to be found?
25. Night Critters
The team considered the wild animal scenario, and thought that they might be searching during the wrong time of day. Lots of wild animals were more active at nighttime, so the mother could potentially be miles away without any worry in her mind! The team didn’t know if they could wait that long for the mother; these babies may not be able to survive another night on their own. The men and women would never forgive themselves if they came back and it was far too late.
The team considered all of the options. There was the potential that the mother had abandoned her babies here, but they hoped that wasn’t the case. They also hoped that the mother was okay, and that she hadn’t met a dangerous fate on a busy road nearby. The team wondered if perhaps the mother was simply spooked away from all of the action, and maybe she’d come back later. It was anyone’s guess what happened, but these babies needed help right away.
27. Making a Decision
Even if the mother was somewhere nearby, the firefighters knew that this was not a place for the babies. It was cold and dark, and if there happened to be any rise in water, it was likely that the animals would drown. Instead of taking that chance, the team went forward with their rescue, hoping to save as many of the babies as possible. They prayed that each of the wiggling babies would come out alive and well.
28. Making the Discovery
Whether the mother was nearby or not, these creatures needed medical attention. If they were domestic, then they would likely be treated and then put in foster care before being adopted. If they were wild, then they would need to be treated and released back into the wild when it was time. Without knowing what animal it was, the firefighters couldn’t be sure what their recovery would entail.
29. The First Baby
One firefighter finally got down onto his stomach and began to reach into the dark sewer. It was wet and full of garbage, but his gloved hand finally met with the wriggling body of a small creature. He raised his hand out of the sewer and placed the tiny animal on a white blanket that had been laid out for them. It was then, once he could finally see the animal in good light, that he immediately knew what they were dealing with.
30. The Verdict
The animal was covered in dark fur, with floppy ears and a long tail. The team couldn’t help but chuckle to themselves, after having wondered about what they were dealing with. The little baby rolling around on the sheet was actually a puppy! A regular, babbling puppy. The team could tell from its features that there was no other animal that this could be. Now that they knew what they were dealing with, they felt comfortable handling the rest of the babies easily.
31. Wild or Domesticated?
The team was glad that they had identified the animals, but it still seemed strange. A domesticated mother dog would never give birth to her pups in a sewer. Even if the dog was wild, this wasn’t a comfortable, warm spot for her to choose. So, how had these puppies ended up here, and where was their mother? Even wild dogs were a little more friendly than other wild animals. Surely she would be in the area?
32. A Sad Realization
After all of that wondering, the team finally thought of something they hadn’t thought of before. Perhaps no mother dog had put her babies in this sewer; perhaps, instead, it was a dog owner who had done it. The thought made the team sick to their stomach, but it made more sense. Maybe the dog owner didn’t want to deal with puppies, so they put them here to perish on their own? It was a terrible thought, but it wasn’t unheard of.
33. A New Life
If these animals had in fact been abandoned, the perpetrator hadn’t done very well to get rid of the animals! Luckily, the kind woman had heard the babies and immediately reacted. The team was happy that they could save these babies and give them a much better life than they would have ever had otherwise. However, they truly hoped that this wasn’t the case. They began to gather more puppies on the blanket as the day progressed.
34. Making a Statement
The story was quickly gaining attention of locals and news stations. The firefighters had a few people come out to interview the team, asking what happened and who was responsible. The squad took this time to educate people about animals, and to inform them they have all kinds of options if they ever find themselves in this situation. Instead of dumping animals and leaving them for dead, other people are more than happy to care for them instead.
35. Smart Choices
The team also encouraged people to do their research before deciding to add a pet to their family. Animals take a lot of time and work, and many people underestimate just how much work they will be! In many cases, people are too ashamed to take their animals to humane societies, so they dump them in rural locations. It’s a sad truth; people need to be much more informed before they take on a pet.
36. Gathering Together
By the time all of the puppies were out of the sewer, the firefighters had seven little puppies bundled up on the white sheet! They were all huddling together, staying close to try and get warm. They all looked the same, with long tails and black fur. It was a very cute sight, but time was ticking for these little pups. They would need milk, warmth, and baths before they were cleared as healthy. So far, the rescue had been a success!
37. The Real Answer
After the puppies were safe and sound, the team began to interview the woman who had called them. They wanted to find out whatever they could, to see if they could figure out who had put them in that sewer. It was a good thing they spoke to this lady, since she was able to dispel the rumors! She had actually seen the puppies entering into the sewer; they hadn’t been put there by anyone!
38. Swept Away
The woman explained that earlier in the day the streams along the curbs had all been very heavy with water from a rainfall the night before. She could see the puppies getting caught in the fast-moving water, eventually making their way to the sewer grate and being sucked in! They were so small that they were unable to stop themselves from taking the plunge into the storm drain. The firefighters let out a sigh of relief.
The firefighters got all of the puppies loaded up into their truck, and decided that they would immediately head for the closest veterinary clinic. While they traveled, the team tried to guess what kind of dog breed they were. Based on their length, their tails, and their color, the team came to the conclusion that they were some form of a Labrador, or a mix with a Labrador. This kind of dog breed was highly sought after, since they were supposed to be such good family dogs.
40. Getting Checked
The puppies were all taken to the local vet’s office, called the Human Society of the Pikes Peak Region. There, all of the puppies were given baths and checkups, to make sure that they were clean, free of fleas, and nourished. At that point, the firefighters headed back to the station, assuming that their part in the whole story was over. How could they possibly help anymore with this scenario? Little did they know, this story had quite the twist.
41. Getting Settled
For the next little while, the puppies were going to stay at the human society. There were still some tests being done, and the team had to find someone who would foster all of the animals when they were ready. The puppies stayed in the same holding area, since it would be helpful for them to be together through this trying time. These first few days would be crucial to their full recovery, and they were lucky to be in such good hands!
42. A Call
Mark Jenkins was one of the men in charge during the puppy rescue, and he left his number with the office in case anything went wrong. He assumed he’d never get a call, but it was only shortly after the rescue when his phone rang. It was the veterinary clinic! Mark instantly became worried. Had something happened with the puppies? Was one of them sick? He’d grown fond of the animals and wanted them to be okay.
43. Shocking Surprise
The vet assured Mark that nothing was wrong with the puppies—they were fine! However, it was actually the word “puppies” that was wrong. Mark sat down in shock as the story unfolded. The vet revealed that the animals they had saved were not actually puppies! Mark was stunned, and even laughed out loud! He was certain that those animals were dogs. So, what were they? The animals they had actually saved …were foxes! Mark couldn’t believe it!
44. Sharing the News
As soon as Mark heard the truth, he had to go to his comrades and tell them what was going on. The man had been so sure that the animals were puppies; he would have put money on it! Luckily, he didn’t, but this was still too funny not to share with all of the men and women who had been there that day. Everyone else had a similar response to Mark’s story. They all burst out laughing! How did these two animals look so alike?
45. Common Mistake
The firefighters felt silly for being so sure that they had found puppies. However, the vet assured them that this was a normal mistake that was made! Foxes are in fact a part of the canine family, so they look very similar to dogs when they are born! It also didn’t help that foxes often had black fur when they were born, which would later turn into the brighter, orange color they had as adults. No one could believe it!
46. Next Steps
Now that the vet knew what kind of animal this was, she had a request for the firefighters. She asked that the animals be returned to the spot where they had been found. Since they were foxes, it was likely that the mother fox was resting somewhere else. She was likely coming back in the dead of night, only to find that her babies were gone! They needed to be returned immediately, in case she was looking for them.
47. Back Again
The firefighters put the animals back in the same area as they had found them. Since the animals hadn’t actually been found right in the sewer, perhaps there was a chance the mother was looking elsewhere for them. They couldn’t be sure that this was where she would search, but there was a good chance she would smell and hear them when she was looking. They left the babies in a safe place in a close by location, making sure they were safe and warm. They then had a stakeout of sorts, watching and waiting for the mother.
48. Midnight Plan
Even though it wasn’t exactly necessary for the firefighters to watch for the mother, they couldn’t let the babies suffer anymore. The babies were fairly exposed, which could make them prey to larger animals. In the end, the babies were only put out in shifts, and the staff acted as a type of protection that watched them from afar. This way, they could be sure that it was the mother that found them, and not another animal.
49. No Sign
For several nights, the team watched and waited for the mother fox to come back. At first they had been feeling positive, but now it seemed like it was all a lost cause. The mother fox hadn’t been spotted for days, and she wasn’t coming around at night. The team assumed that she either had no idea where the babies had gotten to, or perhaps she had faced a terrible fate. These babies didn’t have their mother to care for them anymore.
50. Plan B
It was pretty clear after a few days outside that the mother fox wasn’t coming back for her kits. It was sad, but the firefighters weren’t about to leave these guys out in the cold again. Instead, they gathered up the animals and took them to The Animal Clinic of Woodland Park. Here, the baby foxes could be taken care of, until they were old enough to be released into the wild on their own. It was the best option for them at this point.
51. The Clinic
This clinic was special, because it took in wild animals of all shapes and sizes. The professionals there would work with the animals one-on-one, making sure they were getting healthier, and learning how to be self-sustaining. This meant teaching them to find food, how to protect themselves, and how to socialize. The process would take as long as necessary, until the animals were sufficient enough to survive on their own. It could be a long journey for the foxes, but it would be worth it.
52. Just Babies
The good news for these foxes, was that they were young. Had they been older, they would have already learned behaviours that would have to be un-learned. Instead, these little guys were ready to soak up all of the knowledge they could, so that they could perform properly in the wild. They had zero expectations going into the course, so the trainers were sure that they would do just fine. This was good news to the firefighters!
53. One for the Books
In all of the years that the firefighters had been working, they had never come across a situation like this. In most cases, animals were very clearly a certain type of breed, and they never guessed wrong! Clearly, none of them had been around kits enough to know that they looked like puppies! It was a learning experience for everyone, and a pretty funny story that none of them would ever forget. The team would later retell the entire thing to their comrades at the station.
54. Some Explanations
When the firefighters did some more digging, they realized how everything had come to be. Mother foxes often became pregnant during the colder months of the year, and would give birth just as winter was coming to an end. Of course, the time had been March when they found the animals, so it made sense that they had only just been born recently. However, foxes usually gave birth in hills and mountains, where there were lots of holes and dens to use.
55. A Strange Occurrence
It was odd that these little kits were found so far away from any hill or mountain. In fact, there weren’t many places that looked like dens in this area! Perhaps a sewer could look like a cozy, dark den, when really it’s just a concrete hole full of water and garbage! The team really couldn’t understand what the mother fox was doing in the area, and why she had chosen to give birth there. Maybe she had run out of time?
56. Moving Forward
Going forward, news stations updated everyone about the animals and how they were doing. The firefighters took this time to remind people that they should always alert authorities if they happen to find an animal that’s in need. During the colder months this was even more crucial, since the weather could be a huge factor in an animal’s survival. People were asked to called the human society or the fire department, in order to get expert help with distressed creatures.
57. Being Cautious
Naturally, people were warned that if they did see an animal they thought was in distress, it was important not to take the matter in their own hands. In some cases, this could prove to be very dangerous for both the person, and the animal! Instead, authorities asked that people stay in the vicinity of the animal, but reach out for expert help. This was especially important if the animal wasn’t a common cat or dog.
58. Safety First
Even though someone’s intentions might be good, animals don’t always understand when we’re trying to help. Oftentimes they think we are trying to harm them instead of help them. In times of danger or pain, animals can lash out and cause injury to people, so it’s best to get some backup. The team thanked the woman who reached out to them; she had taken all of the right steps to make sure the animals were rescued safely.
59. Never Forget
The firefighters who were a part of this story would never forget this tale. What had looked like an open and closed case of lost puppies ended up being a much wilder experience! These days, the men and women who were a part of that day always make sure to double-check what kind of animals they’re working with. They never make assumptions before they stick their hands into a dark space to grab a distressed animal. Lesson learned!