News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 18, 2013

9 puppies rescued from roadside pipe

Greene County no-kill shelter works to pull dogs to safety

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

BLOOMFIELD — When members of a Greene County no-kill rescue group learned of nine puppies abandoned in a roadside drainage pipe, they immediately went to work Monday morning.

They worried that if it rained, the one-week old puppies would be washed away.

It wasn’t an easy rescue, by any means.

Rebecca Carmichael, a member of SAFE Animal Rescue, went to the scene — about six miles south of Bloomfield on Indiana 231 —  and did an initial assessment. The puppies were about six feet into the small, narrow drainage pipe and could not be reached by hand.

Later, she returned along with SAFE’s vice president, Elizabeth Riggins. “I climbed back into the pipe as far as I could, but I still couldn’t reach the puppies,” said Riggins, 30, who lives in Linton and is studying to be a surgical technician at Vincennes University.

She had to get creative.

Riggins duct-taped together a garden hoe and a broom and dug out some of the dirt in the drain opening so she could get in a little further.

Finally, able to get herself halfway into the drain, Riggins used her homemade device and was able to drag out the puppies one by one. With each one, “I checked to make sure their noses were clear of dirt and their gums were pink and all of that stuff,” she said.

She handed them to Carmichael, a registered vet technician, who further checked out the puppies and put them in a kennel. Riggins and Carmichael were at the scene about 11⁄2 to two hours.

Also on site was the puppies’ mother, who looks like a black and tan coon hound, Riggins said.

“The only way she [mother dog] could get into the pipe was to get on her belly and do an army crawl,” Riggins said. “It was a pretty tight fit.”

The no-kill rescue group was contacted by a man who had been feeding the abandoned mother, but initially didn’t realize she had puppies. “He lives in that area and had seen the dog for a few days. He realized she wouldn’t go anywhere and followed her to the drain pipe,” Riggins said. He shined a flash light into the pipe and discovered the babies.

He then contacted SAFE Animal Rescue Inc., a volunteer operation.

The mother and nine puppies are now being fostered at Carmichael’s house. When the puppies are eight weeks old, they’ll be given up-to-date shots and dewormed. Then, “we’ll put them on Petfinder for adoption,” Riggins said.

“We’re all animal lovers, and we didn’t want them to be drowned in that pipe,” Riggins said. “We do whatever we have to do to save them.”

The mother also will be put up for adoption. “They’re all in pretty good shape, nice and healthy,” Riggins said.

The volunteers theorize that someone abandoned the mother dog because she was pregnant, and the mother dog either had the puppies in the drain or placed them there.

Safe Animal Rescue Inc. was formed about a year ago. “We’ve saved more than 400 animals,” Riggins said. Not one has been euthanized. “Whatever needs to be done, we do it to help them keep healthy and get adopted,” she said.

The group has seven people who foster.

The group operates off donations. For more information, go to or the group’s Facebook page at Safe Animal Rescue Inc., where photos of Monday’s rescue can be found.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or