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First responders rescue dog from state park pipe

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Burt, Lilys owner takes her as Logan Spline from the Esko Fire Department pulls Lily from the pipe after she fell 180 feet Wednesday, August 14 at Oldenburg Point in Jay Cooke State Park. The rescue took several hours and 30 people to rescue the wet little dog. contributed by Esko Fire Department

A frantic dog owner called 911 for assistance Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Lilly, a 4-year-old Yorkshire terrier, had been exploring a culvert off-leash at Jay Cooke State Park's Oldenburg Point. Much to her owner's surprise, the little dog disappeared.

Esko and Carlton fire departments answered the call.

“She walked into a 12-inch culvert put into place after the flood,” Esko Fire Chief Kyle Gustafson said. “The dog was whimpering and crying and scratching in the pipe.”

Firefighters began digging around the pipe to determine how far Lilly had fallen. They called Decaigny Excavating to help after they had dug down several feet.

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“We spent several hours looking for the end,” Gustafson said.

The pipe goes even with the ground under the walking trail about 30 feet before dropping at a 45-degree angle for another 300 feet down into a ravine.

The firefighters weren't aware the pipe was shaped like a large U, similar to a pipe under a sink. The shape of the pipe causes the water to go back up and bubble out of the ground to help prevent further erosion in the ravine.

After digging about 4 feet into the earth and 30 feet from where Lilly entered the culvert, firefighters cut an inspection hole in the pipe and called for the dog.

The sound out of the pipe was deceiving. Lilly was further down than the firefighters realized.

They called Cloquet Public Works Department and asked to borrow a sewer camera. Two employees promptly brought the camera and lowered it into the pipe. About 154 feet further, a little furry face was looking quizzically back at them through the camera.

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“She tried to crawl onto the camera, but she slid off,” Gustafson said. “Someone had the idea to tie on a safety vest to the camera. The dog climbed onto the vest and sat on it and we pulled her up 154 feet.”

Water sits in the U part of the pipe. When Gustafson pulled Lily out of the pipe, he noticed she was shivering and wet. He said she must have fallen to the bottom, then attempted to climb the 180 feet back up.

He said about 30 people to help rescue the dog. Jay Cooke State Park staff also assisted.

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