DeFuniak Springs firefighters save puppy in hours-long rescue

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DeFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) — Firefighters work to save lives, including those with four legs.

Members of the City of DeFuniak Springs Fire Department in Walton County worked together for hours to rescue a puppy stuck in a deep hole last Monday.

The firefighters received a call about AJ, a mixed breed, weeks-old puppy who had fallen to the bottom of 30-foot-deep well casing underneath her house.

Alexandria Rhodes, the dog’s owner, said she heard AJ crying for help, but was not sure where the puppy was located. She then heard the dog underneath the house.

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Rhodes said the dog had accidentally snuck under the house and fell into the hole, which Rhodes did not know even existed.

“And as I kept crawling [underneath the house], I could hear her whining and I look down, and she’s in this very deep— we think it’s about 30 foot deep and about six to eight inches around— and she was stuck down at the very bottom, covered in water, submerged up to her neck.”

City of DeFuniak Springs Fire Chief Ross Sheffield and firefighters James Stultz, Alan Sheffield and Colby Cook responded to the call.

Video of AJ’s rescue recorded by firefighter James Stultz.

Stultz said they were not immediately sure what to do in that situation.

“When we got there and they said there was a dog under the house, we were thinking it was a dog under the porch or something like that,” Stultz said. “I could see the dog down there at the bottom just barely with [her] head above the water, struggling to stay afloat.”

After a couple of hours of unsuccessful attempts to pull AJ out of the hole, the firefighters had to get creative.

“Once we got some more resources there from the city, they rigged up some piping and some wiring and we were able to snatch the dog out of there,” Stultz said. “But it took a while and a lot of teamwork.”

Once AJ was pulled to the surface, they realized she was unconscious. First responders performed CPR, then she was rushed to the veterinarian.

After some tests and medicine, AJ was sent home with a clean bill of health.

Rhodes said she is incredibly thankful for the City of DeFuniak Springs firefighters for saving her puppy’s life.

Stultz said he is glad that he and his team were able to help Rhodes and AJ.

“As firefighters, we don’t always get to see the end result of what we do,” Stultz said. “But with teamwork and some ingenuity, we were able to figure the situation out and got a good outcome.”

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Chief Sheffield also thanks the DeFuniak Springs Public Works department for their help.

“They really assisted us and helped with the outcome of this incident,” Chief Sheffield said.

Rhodes said she named AJ after two of the firefighters who saved her.

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