'He fell in butt first:' Firefighters rescue dog from pipe in 4-hour operation

The West Fargo Fire Department and the city Public Works Department are being hailed as heroes, after going above and beyond to save a 13-year-old Blue Merle Shetland sheepdog named Bentley, who had

West Fargo fire and city crews worked to free a dog that had become stuck in a storm drain.
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WEST FARGO, N.D. — Digging frantically, yet carefully and methodically on Saturday, Oct. 1, the West Fargo Fire Department's B-shift searched for 13-year-old Bentley, the Shetland sheepdog that had fallen down an uncovered storm drain.

"Take this piece off right here," firefighters are heard saying during the rescue.

"Good boy, Bentley," said Gloria Shipman, who was watching the dog for her daughter.

"As it happened, Bentley and I connected visually. The helpless look on his face, I can't describe it any way other than him telling me, 'help me,' and I couldn't," Shipman said.

"There are so many reasons Bentley is important to the family. One, first and foremost, he is a medical support for my daughter," she said.


Bentley is a much-loved support dog for the family, and like many dog owners, Bentley has become part of the family.

"He has been a godsend for Steph. He is family," Shipman said.

"(I)t's legs went down butt first and it must of got scared, and Bentley had backed up, found a T, and backed up (further into the pipe)," said West Fargo firefighter Joe Johnson.

One firefighter ran home and got his ice fishing camera. Bentley was out of sight, he had shimmied backward down yet another pipe.

"(W)e put our ears to one of the tubes, and you could hear Bentley panting and licking water, so we knew he was OK," Johnson said.

When firefighters realized they couldn't reach Bentley, they called in support from West Fargo Public Works. The city came with a backhoe and crew on a weekend.

"We dug a trench 4-feet wide by 20 feet, I'd say, and 5-feet deep," said West Fargo firefighter Corey Markel.

The team of firefighters and public works dug a trench and it worked.


"The pipes were really sharp, and that's why you probably saw me on the video with my shirt off. I put it over, so the dog wouldn't get cut," Johnson said.

After four hours, it was a successful search and rescue.

"It was a good feeling, a good feeling," said West Fargo firefighter Nick Wavra.

"I grabbed him and he started licking, so you knew he was a good pup," Johnson said.

An incredibly happy ending.

"I almost started crying. At the end, I started petting the dog and he gave me puppy kisses, and I just got teary eyed, (...) I just wanted to cry for that owner," said West Fargo firefighter Andrea Wagemann

"I can't tell you how that was, they instantly wrapped him, handed him over to me, and the licks were just beyond," Shipman said.

Bentley was checked out immediately at the emergency vet clinic, and is doing just fine.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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