St. Clair Shores firefighters rescue dog from open storm sewer

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 20, 2023

 St. Clair Shores firefighters Jamie Maier, left, and Nick McCormick pose with their furry friend after the rescue in late December.

St. Clair Shores firefighters Jamie Maier, left, and Nick McCormick pose with their furry friend after the rescue in late December.

Photo provided by the St. Clair Shores Fire Department


ST. CLAIR SHORES — At 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 29, a dog fell into an open storm sewer on the corner of Harper Avenue and Bon Brae Street.

St. Clair Shores Fire Chief James Piper said in an email a Department of Environmental Quality contractor was on the scene at the time of the incident, and the Fire Department responded in a little over 2 minutes. They were on scene for a total of 33 minutes.

Piper said when firefighters got there, they noted that the dog was in the water, six feet down, and stuck between the ladder and the wall. He said they tried to manually free the dog and when that didn’t work, “the crews cut the ladder using the powered cutters we use on car accidents.”

“The dog was then tethered and carried out by Fire Department personnel and reunited with its owner,” Piper said in an email.

It was not known if the owner was there from the beginning or if they arrived later.

While the Husky did get wet, it did not suffer from hypothermia or sustain any other injuries.

“The dog did not have any visible injuries and was reported in good spirits upon getting to the surface and its owner,” Piper said in an email. “It was in the Husky family breed of dog so is somewhat better suited for colder temperatures.”

In a Facebook post, the responding St. Clair Shores firefighters posed with their new furry friend. The post stated, “Thankfully, Crews were able to safely lift the dog out of the sewer with no injuries.”

If a person or pet falls into the water, Piper said to immediately call 911 and do not try to attempt a rescue by entering the water.

“If a throw rope or buoy is available, it can be helpful for human victims in the water,” Piper said in an email. “Icy water submersion can cause an immediate shock-type effect and cause some people to lock up. This can lead to multiple victims for the Fire Department to have to rescue if a bystander were (to) attempt to enter the water. The Fire Department has equipment and training to safely make the rescue.”

Piper said hypothermia has three stages. The first stage includes shivering and reduced circulation. The second stage includes slow, weakened pulse; slow breathing; lack of coordination; irritability; confusion; and sleepy behavior. The third stage, or advanced stage, includes slow, weak or absent respiration and pulse and a possible loss of consciousness.

He said hypothermia can start almost immediately when a person is wet or submerged. The best bet is to call 911 immediately and to start drying and warming the affected individual.