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Dont chase skunks into pipes

Kathy Heicher/EnterpriseMarsha Bjornson and Biran McGinnis, an Eagle public works employee, try to coax Bjornson's terrier, Murphy, out of an Eagle Ranch culvert.
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EAGLE Murphy the dog should consider giving up chasing skunks after his six-hour ordeal in Eagle on Tuesday.The 40-pound Wheaten terrier, owned by Eagle Ranch residents Sig and Marsha Bjornson, spent a long morning stuck in a storm drainage pipe after he dashed in, leash and all, while chasing a meadow critter. It took an entire morning, and about 20 people to guide Murphy back to daylight. The rescue crew included his owners, several members of the town of Eagles public works staff, a small squad of firemen from the Greater Eagle Fire Distinct, an animal control officer, some helpful friends, and employees of a local sewer and drain company.Marsha Bjornson was walking Murphy on a retractable leash at about 6:30 a.m. when he suddenly pulled away, leash and all, and ran into a drainage culvert on the east side of Haystacker Drive in Eagle Ranch. The culvert is about 18-20 inches wide, and 120 feet long. Murphy is about 40 pounds, and 19 inches tall. It was a tight fit, and once the dog burrowed about 80 feet into the dry culvert, he couldnt figure out how to get back out.Marsha summoned her husband, Sig. When they couldnt get the pooch out, a call for help went out to Eagle County Animal Control. Officer Russ Lounsbury tried unsuccessfully to get Murphy out with a catch pole.Next to answer the call for help were the firefighters and the public works crew. Using a flashlight and a mirror, the rescuers were able to see the frightened dog, but no amount of coaxing, from either end of the pipe, by the owners or strangers, could get the pooch to budge.

The next bit of help came from employees of the Bond-based Freedom Sewer & Drainage company, who were doing some work along Brush Creek. They volunteered their special camera, used for inspecting sewers and drains. At a point 86 feet into the pipe, the camera picked up the image of the dog, who was moving around a bit. Calling and coaxing still failed to persuade Murphy to come out.At that point, the Eagle Public Works crew went to work. Gas and electric company workers came in and marked areas where lines were laid. Eagle Public Works Director Dusty Walls worked a backhoe to uncover the pipe. Working carefully, to avoid injuring the dog, other town staffers used a saw to create an opening big enough for to allow the rescuers to stick their heads in the pipe and get a good look at Murphy.Through all this commotion, Murphy who is afraid of lighting and loud noises remained too frightened to move.Hes pretty freaked out hes probably going to want to stay out of holes for awhile, said Titus Larsson of Freedom Sewer and Drainage.Just when it looked like the firemen were going to have to put their confined space rescue skills to work, Murphy finally responded to Sig Bjornsons coaxing, and backed out of the tunnel. As the dog emerged from the pipe, tail-end first, a triumphant cheer was sent up by the rescuers. Murphy emerged very dirty, a bit smelly, and very happy to see his owners.This group should be commended. They went over and above the call of duty, said Eagle Ranch resident Victor Galko.The Bjornsons were pleased to have their mud-covered dog back.The whole town pulled together. It was awesome, said Marsha.This is an amazing turn-out for a dog stuck in a culvert, added Sig, as they loaded their pet up into their car for a trip to the vet and a bath.The best part is they have their family back together, said Eagle Fireman Chris Blankenship. It doesnt matter how many legs they have family is family.


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