Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:38 PM on Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dog rescued from storm drain

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Sketcher, a 13-year-old male dog, looks out of a storm drain on Main Street near Pioneer Avenue right before Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters rescued him on Wednesday.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Fletcher, emerges muddy but alive after being rescued from a storm drain on Main Street near Pioneer Avenue Wednesday afternoon.

Muddy, wet, cold and in need of a long, warm bath, Sketcher got pulled out of a Main Street storm drain by firefighters on Wednesday afternoon. His treat for the ordeal? A couple of hot dogs donated by Robin Daugherty, manager of the nearby Homer Theatre.

"I don't really know what to say," his owner, Hollyn Smith, said Thursday morning. "I'm happy he's home."

Sketcher, a 13-year-old large male Australian cattle dog, ran away about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Smith kept looking through the night and reported him missing to Animal Control later in the morning. A woman walking by on Pioneer Avenue heard Sketcher barking and called the Homer Volunteer Fire Department about 2 p.m.

"That dog is strong," said Animal Control officer Sherry Bess at the scene.

It took longer for firefighters to set up safety gear than to pull Sketcher out of the storm drain system. Police and firefighters blocked off Main Street for the rescue.

Suited up in a climbing harness, dry suit and miner's helmet, HVFD rescuer Tom Applehanz looked down an open manhole in the middle of Main Street and saw Sketcher in a pipe running southeast toward Pioneer Avenue. Firefighters opened two more manholes and found Sketcher below a manhole between Pioneer Avenue and Main Street.

Using a dog catching pole, HVFD rescuer Chris Cushman snared Sketcher gently around the neck. Sketcher looked up from the hole alert but scared. As Cushman held on to the pole, firefighter Dan Miotke reached down and pulled Sketcher out — safe and standing on his own four feet.

Homer Public Works equipment operator Rusty Cheney said in his 28 years working for the city, he'd never seen a dog in the storm drain system. Grates along curbs keep all the but the tiniest toy poodle out of the system. Cheney said he didn't know how Sketcher could have gotten trapped. Smith lives near South Peninsula Hospital.

After Sketcher's rescue, Bess took him to the Animal Shelter for a warm bath and to be reunited with Smith. Smith said Sketcher was sore and tired but otherwise fine. She said she sent flowers to the fire department on Thursday.

"I'm very thankful for him to be home. It sounds like it was a mess," Smith said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.