Marathon dig in the dark to save stuck puppy

2014-08-20 15:21
Sheritha Neelakandan with puppy Titus (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

Sheritha Neelakandan with puppy Titus (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jeff Wicks, The Witness

Durban - Cheers and applause echoed through the neighbourhood of Phoenix, Durban, at 03:00 on Tuesday, celebrating the fact that sometimes the little things matter the most.

It was pitch dark as specialist rescue technicians led a team of 15, including firefighters and road crews, in a frantic search for one little creature.

His name was Titus, an 8-week-old Mastiff, who had disappeared down a storm drain and whose plight had captured the hearts of men more used to dealing with scenes of human tragedy.

Seven hours

Titus’s cries had been heard for over seven hours as his rescuers battled through shale and rock, trying to dig him out.

As they toiled, Towlen Drive in Phoenix was illuminated by a roseate of emergency lights but by 03:00 they had all but given up hope. The tiny pup had fallen silent in the darkness of the underground drain.

RescueTech spokesperson Nick Holmes, who was part of the rescue party, said: “We hadn’t heard a sound from the puppy for nearly two hours and we were on the verge of giving up when he started yelping again.

“His frantic barking sparked a renewed vigour for us to carry on.

“One of our guys managed to get his arm inside and reaching about in the hole, he got hold of the puppy and pulled him out,” Holmes said.

As Titus was pulled from the pipe, the cheers and applause rang out.


Hours before, his owner, Sheritha Neelakandan, noticed that Titus was missing.

Counting the rest of the litter, she noticed Titus’s mother sniffing at the entrance of the storm drain in their garden.

As she drew nearer, she heard the trapped puppy yelping.

“First we called the SPCA and they came out and said we needed to get the municipality to help and tell us where the drain went,” she said.

Eventually rescuers from several departments descended on their home, and were using heavy duty excavation equipment to track the path of the narrow pipe.

Holmes said they were called for help late on Monday night.

“We got the call from the Coastal SPCA on Monday night asking if we could help rescue a puppy which had gotten stuck in a drain. The fire brigade had been called out, but they weren’t prepared to excavate the drain pipe so they left the scene,” he said.

Road crew saved the day

Holmes said that the arrival of a municipal road crew had saved the day.

“We managed to get hold of someone at the municipality and they organised a road crew to come to the scene and assist with heavy digging equipment to battle through shale and rock - if it wasn’t for them we would still be digging there now.”

Neelakandan said she was elated when Titus was freed.

“I had been so worried and now he is just fine, it is a gift to have him here,” she said.

Read more on:    spca  |  durban  |  good news  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.