Deaf Dog Missing Since Thursday Rescued From Storm Drain in Arlington

Fourteen-year-old Zoe was taken by ambulance to a local veterinarian's office to be checked out

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The big hole in the roadway might have looked like normal street work to anyone driving by Saturday, but on Kelly Elliot Road in Arlington, there was actually a rescue mission underway.

"It's been an all-day process," Arlington Police Ofc. Kristi Weil said.

Zoe, a 14-year-old lab mix, went missing Thursday night, according to her family.

Andrea and Brennan Tankersley first brought Zoe home from a shelter in Oklahoma during their first year of marriage almost 15 years ago.

"She is very mild-mannered, even as a puppy, she was mild-mannered. And she's grown into an older dog, but she's still our first child," Andrea said.

The big hole in the roadway might have looked like normal street work to anyone driving by Saturday, but on Kelly Elliot Road in Arlington, there was actually a rescue mission underway.

The couple's three young girls under the age of 10 have grown up with Zoe and their other dog Amelia. Last Thursday they were given a scare when the dogs got out of the backyard.

Andrea said the dogs were in the backyard Thursday night, but think the latch on the back gate wasn't properly closed.

"We could see on our Ring camera that throughout the night Zoe and Amelia would be walking in and out," Andrea said.

She said this has only happened a few times in the past 14 years, but the dogs have always come back. This time Zoe did not.

"Panic, sadness, she's our dog," Andrea said.

Arlington Fire Capt. Eddy Saldivar spoke with NBC 5’s Sophia Beausoleil about the challenges faced by rescue crews who worked to pull a dog trapped in a storm drain.

"You always go to the worst things that can happen, like, 'Did the dog get hit by a car? 'Did she go off and die somewhere?" Brennan said.

Not only is Zoe an older dog, but she's deaf.

"So how are we going to call her to get her back? So, of course, yeah all of our hearts are broken you know you feel helpless," Brennan said.

They called animal services and looked around, but couldn't find her. It wasn't until the next night that they had some hope. Then another challenge came into play.

"Friday evening is when we saw animal services at the end of the street and a bunch of people huddled around one of the manhole drains and said they heard a dog," Brennan said.

The echo from the pipes made it hard for the family and neighbors to pinpoint where the dog was located.

Andrea said at one point her husband and others started to search for themselves.

"There were four guys that started going in manholes, which is not safe. Don't do it. But we really wanted to try and find her. And our friend is the one that contacted the fire department, and, and it went from there," she said.

The Arlington Fire Department spent almost 12 hours rescuing Zoe.

"I was thinking, 'There's just no way it's like an impossible mission,' but in their mind, failure is not an option," Brennan said.

"It baffled us every time they came up with a new strategy and how far they were willing to go and they were literally like, 'Failure is not an option, we're bringing your dog back,'" Andrea said.

Crews dug up the street and cut into a pipe to get to her.

"Hours later they were jackhammering, sawing, and then eventually crawling down a tunnel to rescue her," Brennan said.

But there was still one more challenge and firefighters turned to a kindergartener for an unconventional tool.

"One of the firemen had an idea to try and find a skateboard to help get into a drainage pipe and try to rescue her," Arlington police officer Kristi Weil said.

Cameras were rolling the moment a firefighter slid into the drain and pulled Zoe to safety, bringing a happy ending for all those watching and waiting.

"There were cheers of joy and tears when Zoe was rescued,” Weil said.

The dog's adventure wasn't quite over, she was placed on a stretcher and taken to a veterinarian by ambulance.

“The doctors said they've never had a dog delivered by ambulance before, so these guys really went above and beyond," Andrea said.

She said the determination by the Arlington Fire Department and police were much appreciated and the family said they're beyond grateful.

"We can't thank them enough, we can't say, 'Thank you' enough for rescuing our dog and that was just amazing, and we're really thankful," Andrea said.

"I feel like we've taken for granted time so this is a humbling experience for me, so don't take your local services for granted," Brennan said.

The couple said they plan to meet the first responders at some point to say thank you in person.

As for the skateboard that was used, NBC 5 was told that the boy will get a new one.

Brennan said crews continued to repair the road Monday.

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