UF VETS team rescues dog from hole
By Sarah Carey
This dog is no ordinary Joe.
Several days after his dramatic rescue from the bottom of a 50-foot hole — which the 3-year-old English springer spaniel fell through at a park near Jonesville — Joe appears to have suffered only a few torn ligaments and some bruising.
“He’s very sore, but he’s a trooper,” said Carmen Cowart, who owns Joe with her partner, Kristi Linnes.
They’ve had the dog, which Cowart describes as their “child,” since he was a puppy. She can’t think about what might have happened had it not been for the unexpected help they received from the UF Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service and other agencies that responded to the scene following a 911 call March 18.
The evening unfolded as many do for the couple, as an opportunity to walk along some asphalt trails at a familiar park with their beloved pet beside them, searching for tennis balls. All of a sudden, Joe seemed to take a hop up, then he disappeared from view.
“Somehow I saw the hole, but Joe never made a cry,” Cowart said.
She got on her belly and leaned over, and in the fading light through the deep opening, could see the light of Joe’s eyes.
“I just started screaming,” Cowart said.
Other women arrived on the trail and called 911. When the Alachua County Fire Rescue service arrived, one of the chiefs knew about the UF VETS team and contacted college director John Haven to ask if the group might be able to assist.
“Someone had a ladder, someone had a rope, but boy, when the VETS team came, they had their act together, and they had everything, including the headlights, the helmets and all the equipment,” Cowart said. “They thought of everything.”
Roger Clemmons, D.V.M., a longtime member of the VETS team, insisted on going down himself for the dog. He even brought along some chicken nugget treats, Cowart said.
The VETS team pulled Joe out of the hole using a special sling designed for canines. The entire ordeal took about four hours. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Alachua County Animal Control and the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were also involved in the rescue.
After his rescue, Joe was brought to the Small Animal Hospital for further evaluation.
“I’m just so glad no one ever gave up,” Cowart said. “They knew what a big deal it was, that it was my baby down there.”