Firefighters save puppy from furnace vent

Matt Gardner
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Local firefighter Chris Bourdon reunites Yoshi the Chihuahua puppy with owner Thomas Merasty.

A Christmas puppy that fell into an air vent on Saturday was recovered safe and sound thanks to members of the Prince Albert Fire Department.

Firefighters responded at approximately 10:30 a.m. after receiving a call from a local residence that a dog had gotten trapped in the furnace venting system.

The responders included acting captain Joel Perreault and firefighters Chris Bourdon, Duane Newdorf and Marlon Lebar, who determined that Yoshi, a young Chihuahua puppy, had passed through an uncovered cold-air return in the venting system.

“A larger dog for sure wouldn’t have gotten into the hole,” Bourdon said.

“This little dog … He wasn’t six inches from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. He was a small little dog, and this little boy had just gotten him for Christmas.”

They estimated that Yoshi had been trapped in the vent for almost three hours before his plight was discovered.

“We could hear him kind of moaning,” Bourdon recalled. “He wasn’t barking or anything like that … We were determined to get him out with the least amount of damage, I suppose, so we went actually to the furnace to see if we could undo any of the ducting.”

After taking apart the ducting with screws, the firefighters could still hear Yoshi, but were unable to see him through the hole.

Deciding to try an alternative route, they went upstairs to another room and tried to see if they could hear the puppy through the walls.

There they finally located the dog, wagging his tail with his paws on the ledge of the hole.

“We removed another cold air return vent and he was there, waiting and ready to come out of the hole,” Bourdon said.

Though Bourdon put on gloves before removing Yoshi in case the puppy decided to bite, the dog was more than willing to accept a hand from the firefighters.

“He was very happy to be out, I think,” Bourdon said.

“It doesn’t sound like it’s too big of a situation,” he added. “But had the little dog walked probably about five feet in the other direction, he would have actually fallen down into the furnace from the cold-air return and then that wouldn’t have been too good of a situation … He was kind of a lucky little dog.”

If anybody ever needs help, you can phone us. That’s what we’re there for. Chris Bourdon

All in all, it took the firefighters approximately 20 minutes to rescue Yoshi from the furnace vent.

To avoid a repeat of the same situation, the firefighters covered up the hole with a small piece of plywood and suggested getting a vent to cover it in the long run.

“It’s all just preventative maintenance,” Bourdon said.

“You wouldn’t your kid to stick their arm in there and get hooked on a nail or anything, so it’s a good idea to try and have that same idea for your pets too. You wouldn’t want them to go where they’re not supposed to go.”

Despite their moniker, Bourdon acknowledged that the fire department in some sense might be classified as a “catch-all” service, given the variety of calls it responds to.

“We get literally cats in trees -- and kids,” he said. “I’ve gone to get kids out of trees because they climb up the tree and they can’t come down.

“That’s the thing -- you get a call from a citizen, this may not seem like it’s too big of a deal to some people, but if they’re phoning us, they’re in some sort of distress.”

Yet responding to citizens in danger or distress, he noted, is precisely the role of the fire service.

Citing their weekend puppy rescue, Bourdon encouraged anyone in trouble to call the fire department if necessary.

“Some people may think this is just a puppy in the wall, but to that family, they were in distress,” he said.

“So if anybody ever needs help, you can phone us. That’s what we’re there for.”

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