Firefighters rescue dog trapped in hole

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Friday, August 13, 2010
— What could have been a tragedy for a Virginia dog owner resulted in a happy ending Thursday morning.

A dog chasing a rabbit or another small animal got away from his owner early Wednesday night and fell into an 8-foot-by-4-foot uncovered manhole, where the dog was trapped for nearly 12 hours.

Janesville firefighters rescued the dog Thursday.

Brian Sostkowski, 51, of Alexandria, Va., and his dog Klaus had stopped in Janesville to stay overnight Wednesday at Motel 6 on their way to Wyoming. While Sostkowski waited for a pizza delivery, he decided to take the 10-year-old Weimaraner for a walk around 6:30 p.m.

The dog must have noticed an animal before hopping into bushes of the nearby fields.

Sostkowski returned to his pickup truck, drove it around in the area where they had just been and tooted the horn as a signal for the dog to come back. But Klaus didn't respond.

"I was hysterical," said Sostkowski, who continued searching for the dog.

After returning to his motel room, Sostkowski posted an ad on craigslist.com and the Wisconsin Lost Dog website in hopes someone would see it and find Klaus. No one responded.

Sostkowski resumed his search at 6 a.m. Thursday. Retracing his steps, he noticed some knocked-down vegetation by a manhole cover, then he saw a dark shadow of the hole.

"There he was," Sostkowski said.

Sostkowski ran to nearby Dohrn Transfer and asked the guys working inside to call for help. A dispatcher at the Rock County Communications Center then called the Janesville Fire Department, said Capt. Jody Stowers. Crews from stations 1 and 5 were sent to the scene.

Webbing and caribiners were used to create a harness. Firefighter Ben Shelby secured the apparatus around the 85-pound dog's legs and back before lifting and carrying him up a ladder and handing him up to his owner and two other firefighters.

"He was very distressed from being there overnight, yet tame and calm considering the circumstances," Shelby said. "But other than that his physical appearance was remarkable."

Why the manhole cover was off, Janesville Public Works Operations Director John Whitcomb can't say.

"Most times we never know why they become uncovered. It's not uncommon and happens. How this one came off, we really have no idea and probably will never know," he said.

By mid morning Thursday, crews had put the cover back on the hole.

Last updated: 2:44 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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