That’s how Cookie tumbled: UF VETS team rescues pug from sinkhole

Pug Rescue 4.2017

John Haven, director of the UF VETS team, assesses the sinkhole opening and logistics required to extricate the fallen dog. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Phillips)

On the evening of April 5, as rainstorms darkened the area and reports of collapsing ground were being called in to area law enforcement, a female pug named Cookie fell 30 feet into a sinkhole in Gilchrist County as her alarmed owner looked on.

The owner, Patricia Langston, then called Gilchrist County Fire Rescue, which immediately contacted the UF Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service for assistance.

“Our responding units noted several areas where the ground was beginning to collapse and one large hold close to 6 feet in diameter at the top, tapering down almost 30 feet deep,” said James Campbell, the Gilchrist County fire chief. “The animal, a small breed pug, was able to be heard at the bottom of the cavern, but was not visible.”

Knowing the UF VETS team had extensive training in the technical rescue of animals large and small, Campbell and his team awaited the expertise that would prove to save Cookie’s life. They also awaited arrival of the Fanning Springs Fire Rescue and City of Trenton Fire Department teams to assist with manpower.

“The UF VETS team, in collaboration with our team, outfitted responders from all agencies with safety harnesses, securing all team members to a hard anchor point, and began to carefully enlarge the cavern in attempts to locate the trapped canine without triggering another collapse,” Campbell said.

Pug Rescue

UF veterinary medical student and UF VETS team member Jenny Groover emerges with the pug safely in her arms. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Phillips)

“Once a large portion of loose dirt had been removed from the top of the collapsed area, the UF VETS team was able to determine that the walls of the newly formed cavern were made of hard limestone and would allow a rescuer to be lowered down to retrieve the animal,” he added. “All teams had to work quickly, as another band of rain and nearby lightning threatened to halt the rescue operations.”

In close collaboration, the local groups helped UF VETS team members assemble their specialized A-frame over the cavern and were able to successfully lower a team member into the collapse area, rescuing the dog uninjured from the incident.

UF VETS team members who deployed during this event were John Haven, executive director of the college and director of UF VETS, Jenny Groover, a UF veterinary medical student, and Brandi Phillips, a UF employee.


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