Bonita, CA – A four-hour rescue mission saved the life of a retired police K9 who fell down an abandoned 40-foot well in February.
K9 Indy, a nine-year-old German shepherd, fell down into the deep hole on the afternoon of Feb. 1, WHNS reported.
His owner, Mark Pugh, later said that he and the landowner had no idea the abandoned well was there before K9 Indy mistakenly tumbled to the bottom of it, according to KFMB reported.
The Chula Vista Fire Department (CVFD) responded to the scene and began the painstaking process of figuring out how to safely rescue the injured K9 from depths of the abandoned well with the assistance of the Bonita Fire Protection, the San Miguel Fire Department, the San Diego Humane Society, and Animal Care Facility, the CVFD said in a video release.
The mission lasted four hours.
Chula Vista Firefighter Fernando Bayardi said an old-school lasso technique ended up being the perfect method.
“It was definitely a sigh of relief as soon as I got that lasso around the neck,” Bayardi said. “We had been trying for a couple hours, we tried different techniques, different approaches, and the key was not to give up.”
“We finally decided to just try an old lasso technique and see if we can get the rope around the dog,” he recounted. “I got the cinch, and I got a good grip of the dog… I was very happy.”
They were able to raise the retired K9 up out of the hole to safety, where he was immediately met by Pugh, WHNS reported.
Chula Vista Firefighter Jamie Mendoza said it was a moment of happiness and relief.
“It was definitely more of an emotional part when we saw the owner come over,” Mendoza said in the video. “Hands down, the best feeling was being able to see him go over to his dog and pet him.”
But Pugh said K9 Indy didn’t escape the fall unscathed.
“He had a giant gash in his back about 18 inches long from either a rock or a jagged edge on the way down and it got all kinds of nasty stuff inside of it,” he told KFMB on March 1.
The wound led to multiple bacterial infections.
His recovery has been slow, but K9 Indy is still forging ahead.
“He’s hung in there,” Pugh told KFMB. “He’s strong. He’s a very strong German shepherd.”
The retired police dog underwent surgery in Sorrento Valley on Feb. 28 to help repair a ruptured disc in one of his vertebrae that was compressing his spinal cord.
“After all his swelling and infection went down, they did another MRI and they found a bad disc, so they had to go in and fuse two vertebrates together,” Pugh explained. “He had nervous function – you could pinch his legs, he’d move them, he’d move his tail – but he couldn’t get up on his back legs because of the pressure of the injury.”
He said doctors are hopeful K9 Indy will regain his ability to walk, but he will also need physical therapy before that can happen, KFMB reported.
“It’s day-by-day still,” Pugh said. “Before he’s back to normal where he was… it could be another couple months.”
He said the entire accident “was terrible,” but that he also believes K9 Indy saved him and his family from falling into the well themselves, KFMB reported.
Pugh said he and the landowner “had no idea that hole was there.”
The property owner has since closed the hole up using plywood and cement, KFMB reported.