Firefighters Rescuing Litter Of ‘Puppies’ Quickly Realize They Aren’t Canines At All

Firefighters saving any life is downright heroic. But there’s something about soot-coated firefighters emerging from burning houses with cats in their arms that just warms our hearts. And plucking a suffering animal from a dangerous spot outdoors? Well, that just adds a whole ‘nother element to the perfect firefighter calendar.

Enter the Colorado Springs Fire Department: When it received a frenzied call regarding a yapping puppy in danger, the firefighters immediately leapt into action. After they arrived to the trouble, however, the firefighters were left scratching their heads at the less-than picture-perfect scene.

The gallant firefighters of Colorado Springs Fire Department receive frantic calls on the regular, often related to fallen trees, fires, and other freak accidents. But this particular call in 2018 sent them on an unpredictable mission.

Kelsey Brunner

The heroes had spent much of the month of March lounging around the station, as there weren’t many emergencies filling up their time. But then they answered a call from a panicked individual claiming he heard loud dog whimpers coming from beneath the ground.

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He explained that the little yelps were coming from inside a storm drain. The firefighters had so many questions: How did the poor thing get down there? What condition was the pup in? But there was no time to wonder.

City of Goshen

The good Samaritan was waiting at the scene, directing the firefighters to the source of the noises the second they arrived. Looking inside the storm drain felt like looking down at the bottom of a well; it was deep and dark, and they could hardly see anything. But the yelps continued.

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The firefighters shined a flashlight down the storm drain but realized they were getting nowhere by looking from afar. They rolled up their sleeves and decided it was time to journey down the hole and rescue whatever was really down there.

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They promptly removed the grate, and the firefighters reached their arms down the storm drain as far as they could, blindly feeling around for a tiny, furry body. To their amazement, they pulled out a charcoal-colored puppy!

Hickory Hills Silver Labs

Even after lifting up the tiny pup, the yapping continued from down below… from a whole litter of puppies down there. But how did they get there in the first place? It wasn’t an area known to have stray dogs, so who put a litter of puppies in a storm drain?

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Aside from the lack of sunshine and food that threatened the pups in their dungeon, they could’ve drowned if a brutal storm washed enough water down that drain. But the firefighters avoided stewing in their anger.

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Instead, the rescuers focused on the positive: the puppies would soon be safe. As they continued pulling dogs up one by one, they were shocked to count a whopping eight pups!

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They gently laid each one down on a white sheet, suspecting that they were perhaps black Labradors (despite being a dark grey hue). Considering the fresh pups could barely even see yet, the firefighters worried they wouldn’t survive without their mother.

CBS Denver / YouTube

If the mother had rejected the litter, the poor things would surely be at risk of numerous medical conditions. The firefighters brought the eight pups to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. There, they found out their story was just beginning.

Colorado Springs Fire Department / Facebook

The Humane Society, a renowned animal protection organization, was known for rehabilitating orphaned animals, and these pups needed constant medical attention if they were going to make it. They needed to be bottle-fed heated formula to keep them warm. But one of the vets noticed something… odd.

Humane Society Pikes Peak

Veterinarians can practically indicate any dog breed with their eyes closed, but these puppies had the vet stumped. After further speculation, the Humane Society revealed that this litter of “puppies” was actually a litter of baby red foxes!

Ian Murray

The crew of firefighters were downright shocked, especially considering they were a long way off from a wooded area. But one of the veterinarians, who happened to be an expert on foxes, clarified that it wasn’t all that surprising.

@woodmen_valley_chapel / Instagram

Though they may resemble your fluffy neighborhood dog, red foxes are independent, resilient warriors! Whether they’re located in the heat of the desert, the depths of the forest, the icy Alaskan tundra, or the urban jungle, they’ll adapt and survive.

Hal Winters / NRCM

Despite their knack for survival, the question still remained: how did they get in the drain? Fox expert Travis Sauder appeared on a Colorado Springs local news station (this town sure has a lot of fox experts) and explained that it was mating season for foxes.

Will Parson / Chesapeake Bay Program

“This time of year there are a lot of animals that are starting to have their young. They have them in small dens that are places we can encounter, as we’re out recreating in the outdoors,” Travis, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager, stated.

CBS Denver / YouTube

Considering the environment is becoming more industrial and less green, the mama fox likely thought the storm drain was the perfect place to keep her kits safe from humans and predators, as if it were some gated den.

USFWS Mountain-Prairie

The Humane Society veterinarians planned to continue acting as mothers to the fox kits, but the gallant firefighters had another, more controversial plan: they wanted to bring them back to the storm drain (minus the grate of course).

@CSFDPIO / Twitter

“These animals are going to be put back where we found them hoping that the mother is still in the area and can pick up the normal duties like she would. If the mom’s not around anymore we can take them to a licensed rehab,” disclosed Travis Sauder. The fox offspring were of course closely monitored.

Gail Shotlander / Getty Images

Though it’s wild to think anyone could mistake a fox cub for a Labrador pup, stranger things have happened. Nature is undoubtedly a mysterious thing, and what Rando Kartsepp, Robin Sillamäe, and Erki Väli witnessed inside the Pärnu River boasted similar trickery.

In February 2019, Rando Kartsepp, Robin Sillamäe, and Erki Väli were in the midst of working on Estonia’s Sindi Dam when they were interrupted by the faint sound of an animal crying. Concerned, they immediately rushed to the source of the noise.

California Department of Water Resources

When the construction workers reached the lip of the Pärnu River, they were horrified to see a dog struggling to stay afloat in the icy water. Floundering about, the poor pooch was obviously panicking, which forced the men to take further action.

Mother Nature Network

They didn’t hesitate to leap into the freezing water in an attempt to rescue the helpless dog, but first they had to carve a pathway through the thick layer of ice sitting atop the water. The dog must’ve fallen through the ice like an overambitious ice skater.

Thankfully, they made it to the canine in time. The rescuers immediately wrapped him up in a cozy blanket, doing the best they could to dry off his dense fur. The furry guy was in a state of shock.

The construction workers were enamored with the pooch. They’d never seen one like him! He had a long snout, a hefty coat, and his eyes glowed like yellow citrine. Neither guy could guess what breeds made up this mutt.

Jetix

But they didn’t have time to consider the mongrel’s origins, as it would be a matter of minutes before he froze to death. The three men rushed the dog to a pickup truck, gently laying him down in the back before contacting a nearby animal hospital.

@erakogu / Instagram

The hospital instructed Rando, Robin, and Erki to bring the shaking dog over ASAP, as he was in great danger of dying of hypothermia. They put the key in the ignition and slammed on the gas, speeding the entire route to the hospital.

The construction workers’ new furry friend managed to sleep the whole ride there, all while they were frantically breathing through brown paper bags (okay, not really). The men carried the large canine inside the building, where veterinarians were ready to help the dog survive.

After some time, the veterinarians had some news for the men: To the crew’s confusion, the animal they rescued apparently wasn’t a domestic dog. The docs quickly admitted that even they were unsure of the canine’s species.

Postimees

The perplexed vets called a local hunter, hoping he’d know what species the crew of heroic men saved. The skilled huntsman knew exactly what their furry friend was as he couldn’t help but notice what big teeth he had.

J. W. Smith

The men were dumbfounded — this was a wolf! Just minutes ago a ferocious predator was in their truck, resting his head oin Rando’s lap! “He was calm, slept on my legs. When I wanted to stretch them, he raised his head for a moment,” Rando said.

Seacrest Wolf Preserve

But because the wolf was in such shabby shape, he couldn’t even think about snacking on the men who rescued him. According to the Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals, the wolf’s dangerously low blood pressure made him too weak.

Knowledge, Science, Culture Everyday /YouTube

Considering he was brought to a safer, much warmer environment, the wolf’s blood pressure would undoubtedly rise back up, so the cautious vets put him in a cage. With increased blood pressure would likely come increased aggression.

Mailiis Ollino

“At first, he was so done in for he didn’t resist at all. We simply kept him in this room. But once he started to get an idea of the situation, I felt things might quickly take a turn for the dangerous.” said Tarvo Markson, the hospital’s head clinician.

Mailiis Ollino

The one-year-old wolf started acting up as soon as his blood pressure went back to normal, just as expected. After a few hours of recovery, the little wolf pup was starting to feel like himself again; he was ready to head home.

Knowledge, Science, Culture Everyday / YouTube

But before they were to release the wolf back into the wild, the Estonian National Environmental Agency decided to give him a GPS collar, as they didn’t want him getting into any more perilous shenanigans with no one to save him.

Monty Sloan

The construction crew brought their wolf friend, who was still safely contained in a cage, to his home adjacent the Pärnu River. They slowly opened the cage’s metal door, and watched as the young wolf stepped onto the snow paw by paw.

Marko Kübarsepp

As Rando, Robin, and Erki waved goodbye, the furry guy bolted into the darkness of the woods. It was bittersweet for the valiant men, as they developed an attachment to the ambiguous creature. Though they couldn’t help but feel sad, they also were proud.

John Gimlette

“We are so happy for the outcome of the story, and wish to thank all the participants — especially these men who rescued the wolf and the doctors of the clinic who were not afraid to treat and nurture the wild animal,” relayed the Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals.

Kimberly Saavedra

They knew the benefit wolves could have on an ecosystem. All they had to do was look a few thousand miles away to America’s Yellowstone National Park. In the ’80s and ’90s, it was wolf free — and hurting.

National Geographic

Before 1926, Yellowstone National Park was full of wolves. They thrived in the park, but within the first few decades of the 1900s, government predator control programs wiped them out entirely. This was a problem.

No one saw another wolf until 1977 — about 50 years later — but, even then, it was a lone wolf or two merely wandering through. Oddly, it was the lack of these wolves that led to the park’s decline.

Brian Pas

With no predators to fear, the deer population absolutely exploded. They could eat and overgraze all they wanted without worrying about wolves. Soon, the forests and meadows were barren, but the deer and their ilk kept at it.

As the deer kept grazing, taking all the resources for themselves, the other animals suffered. Creatures that dined on fauna stood no chance in the food race against deer. Animals that ate those animals saw their food supply dwindle.

Photography Life

And the rapid loss of vegetation didn’t just leave the forests bare. Without vegetation keeping soil in place, the rivers that ran through Yellowstone began eroding, which prompted the loss of many animal species who relied on healthy waters to survive.

Yellowstone was struggling, and park employees needed to find a solution. It really all boiled down to the high numbers of deer, they knew, so, in 1995, they hatched a plan.

Yellowstone Collection

The deer needed predators, plain and simple, and workers figured this would be the perfect time to reintroduce wolves back into Yellowstone. Packs of gray wolves were released into the park, and hopeful employees prayed it was the answer.

Now, the deer were suddenly thrust back into the predator versus prey world, and even though there were far fewer wolves than deer, the wolves were fearsome hunters. They welcomed the challenge.

Day and night, the battle ensued, and the wolves were the victors nearly every time. This relationship between the wolves and deer is known as “top-down control.”

Top-down control is when predators who sit atop the food chain assist with the regulation of the animals who are beneath them. That’s exactly what happened when the wolves were reintroduced. With deer numbers dwindling, the vegetation flourished.

U.S. Marines

Aspen and willow trees that hadn’t seen a successful life for decades finally grew back tenfold, and it seemed they were healthier than ever. But, the trees were just the very beginning of the massive change.

The waterways running through the parks began changing, and the regenerated vegetation growing on the riverbeds brought with it a whole new array of life not seen in such a long time.

For the first time in forever, beavers returned to the water. They began constructing their intricate dams, which contributed to a habitat that attracted a variety of reptiles, otters, and muskrats.

Because of the increased vegetation, mice and rabbits thrived, which, in turn, gave the red fox an amazing feasting opportunity. Red fox numbers grew, and still, there was even more happening.

The number of bears also increased. The deer had scoured bushes and ate the same berries the bears enjoyed, but with the berries now finally plentiful again, the bears could eat without a problem.

Through it all, the wolves gained a feathery friend! Ravens are known to follow behind wolves and pick at the remains of whatever they hunt and kill. The four-legged assassins were hard at work, and those ravens were always close behind.

The new lush vegetation not only benefited all of the animals, but it helped drastically slow down, and sometimes completely stop, the erosion of riverbeds. The changes were nothing short of miraculous.

Incredibly, the wolves, although nowhere near as abundant in numbers as the deer they hunted, managed to not only change the ecosystem but the physical geography of Yellowstone National Park. It was a feat that had every park employee — and wolf — howling with joyous pride.

What’s most shocking about this development was how few wolves it took to really change Yellowstone for the better. Still, this reflects a human truth: it only takes a handful of people to make a huge difference.

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For instance, the Indian island of Majuli, located within the Brahmaputra river system in Northeast India, boasted over 140 villages and over 150,000 people. Like Yellowstone, the island was in trouble.

Ritu Raj Konwar

See, Majuli is actually the world’s largest river island. These special islands are really just big sand bars that form throughout a riverbed; sometimes the sand bars are so large, people can actually live on them — that’s the case with Majuli.

But, in the heat of a river’s current, the island changes shape and size frequently, which poses a threat to inhabitants. In fact, over the last 70 years, the island has shrunk by more than half it’s original size.

Why the change? Because during the monsoon season large embankments were built up the river to protect larger towns from flooding. This didn’t allow the riverbanks to naturally flood, and therefore directed all excess water towards Majuli.

As the river water eroded the island, space for the 150,000 inhabitants shrank. Since 1991, over 35 villages were washed away, forcing villagers to leave the only home they ever knew.

Indian authorities are concerned that within the next 20 years the entire island of Majuli will be completely submerged and the 140 villages left will be lost forever. If they don’t do something about it now, their fears will become a reality.

The people aren’t the only ones being affected either. Animals are being severely affected by the intense flooding, resulting in major casualties. In fact, the snake population alone has dropped by 45 percent over the last five years!

When the river flooded the island, it would pick up the snakes and carry them downstream. The water dumped the snakes onto tree-less sandbars surrounding Majuli, leaving them exposed to the excessive heat and the harsh Indian sun.

One man in particular, Jadav Payeng from the Mising tribe of Majuli, grew up watching the island shrink. He watched villages wash away, he watched animals torn from their homes, and he watched the villagers grow more and more concerned.

Jitu Kalita

As a young boy, Jadav loved nature, animals (yes, even the snakes), and anything that grew. This impacted him from a very young age and sparked his interest in environmental activism and forestry conservation.

William Douglas McMaster

He was determined to save the island and not just himself, but for his family and tribe. So at the age of 16, he decided to dedicate his life work to do just that: saving Majuli. How he did it was no small feat…

One day in 1979, he started planting trees. He managed to get seeds and made his way to a large, barren area on Majuli. He dug a small hole using a stick, dropped them in the hole, and left the rest to nature.

William Douglas McMaster

He knew that planting one tree wouldn’t do much of anything, so day after day he returned and planted as many trees as he possibly could. His hope was that the trees would grow tall with deep roots that would hold the earth in place and protect the island from erosion.

William Douglas McMaster

After 40 years of consistent work, he’d planted an entire forest on the island, over tens of thousands of trees. This work resulted in a forest that was far larger than the size of New York’s Central Park!

Bijitdutta

The forest was rightfully dubbed Molai Forest. He said that planting trees became much easier once he could seed from the trees that already exist in his forest. Still, Jadav faced struggles each day…

William Douglas McMaster

With his forest continually growing, animals returned to the area. Elephants, Bengal tigers, and rhinos to name a few now call this area of Majuli home. With the return of animals, Jadav said poachers became a problem once more.

William Douglas McMaster

Jadav said, “All species on this planet are animals, including humans. There are no monsters in nature except for humans. Humans consume everything until there is nothing left.”

William Douglas McMaster

In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor in India. Additionally, he was recognized by many other local Indian establishments for dedicating his life to the conversation of Majuli.

William Douglas McMaster

Still, Jadav was frustrated by the lack of real help he has received. He suggested planting coconut trees because they’re strong and straight, which would help anchor the soil, and coconut harvesting would boost the economy, all within five years. But sadly no one adopted his proposal.

Jadav refused to give up. He had dreams of seeing Majuli return to the lush green forest it once was before humans so drastically altered it. He believed that he could save the island of Majuli. He stated, “I will continue to plant until my last breath.”

101 India

It takes a certain level of self-control to channel desperation into something positive. Yet, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, that’s precisely what Bapurao Tajne set out to do after his wife was embarrassed by a group of upper-caste elites.

Like many societies across the world, India still operates on a caste system, and those in the upper levels hold a lot of power over those below them. This system has oppressed the less fortunate for countless generations.

The upper caste wields so much power that when Bapurao’s wife kneeled beside a well to fetch water for her thirsty family, the elites in the area did more than just refuse her. They also ridiculed and humiliated her.

So what did Bapurao do when he heard about the elites’ treatment of his wife? It would have been easy to do nothing or to lash out in anger against her aggressors…

Instead, he took all of his negative energy and anger, and he channeled it into something useful: he was going to dig a well for his own village to use!

MEA India File / Youtube

Over the past two years, weaker monsoons caused widespread droughts across India. Conditions got so bad that the government sometimes resorted to rationing water.

At first, he wasn’t sure where to dig. Location was important, after all, because, in order for a well to be successful, it needs to be replenished by flowing water.

Bapurao closed his eyes, prayed, and honed in on the first sun-worn spot he saw. This would be the site of his new well. It had to be.

YouTube / myprivatecrusade

For eight hours every day, Bapurao worked his manual labor job, and when he returned home, he picked up a shovel and dug his well. It didn’t matter if he was tired or sore.

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He did this second job for six hours each day, digging into the hard soil as much as he could. Of course, it didn’t matter how much hard work he put into the well if he picked out a poor location. Would Bapurao ever find water?

Days passed and Bapurao’s well grew wider and deeper, but still, no water filled it. The villagers — the would-be beneficiaries of Bapurao’s well — told him he was crazy.

Even his wife criticized him for wasting his time, until eventually, Bapurao doubted himself. Nonetheless, he kept digging. He just couldn’t give up.

“It is difficult to explain what I felt in those days,” Bapurao said to The Times of India. “I just wanted to provide water for my whole locality so that we did not have to beg for water from other castes.”

After 40 days of digging, he finally found success! He struck his shovel into the hard, rocky soil, and a small stream of water trickled out.

Perhaps even more astonished at the sight of water were Bapurao’s neighbors. They’d mocked and ridiculed him, but there was water, right before their eyes.

Lucky for them, Bapurao was a forgiving man, and he encouraged everyone to use the well! They were still his neighbors, after all.

As for Bapurao’s wife, whose hardships inspired this whole project? She was a bit ashamed of herself: “I did not help him a bit until he struck water,” she said.

MEA India File / Youtube

But now she’s by her husband’s side, explaining, “It is already 15 feet deep. Bapurao wants to dig five feet further. We are hoping our neighbors will help us.”

News of Bapurao’s well spread like wildfire. Soon enough, news stations and papers poured into town, trying to get a few words from the man with the shovel.

Bapurao even got his own moment in the spotlight with an exclusive interview. You can check it out — with additional information on Bapurao’s deeds — in the video below!

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