Occasionally, you’ll see a news clip on TV or online in which a sewer cleaning or camera crew comes to the rescue of a forlorn animal stuck in a sewer.
One of the most recent stories took place in Detroit and involved a crew with Inland Waters Pollution Control (IWPC), a division of Inland Pipe Rehabilitation (IPR), serving the Detroit Tri-County area of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
On June 16, the crew was brought in to check a section of pipe where the road began to cave in on the east side of Detroit. According to Joshua Smith, a TV tech for IWPC who was on the scene that day, after checking a section of pipe, the crew took a break. That’s when they heard the faint sound of a dog barking. Not one to ignore the sound of an animal in distress, the crew jumped into action opening manholes along the line until they found the source of the noise.
“We jetted that section to prepare for cleaning and he wasn’t in the manhole,” Smith recalls. “We are not sure where he came from. The upstream section was buried, and the downstream side went down a hill and by the freeway.”
When they found the dog, the IWPC crew notified the city inspector on scene, who notified the local humane society. On the first rescue try, the dog took off down the sewer line. After that failed attempt, a worker with the Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC) was able to lure the famished and frightened dog to the manhole using food.
“It felt great to be part of the dog’s rescue,” Smith says. “My worst fear was that the dog would need to be put to sleep.”
This fear, however, was not the case. Instead, a call was made, and the dog was quickly adopted by one of IPR’s own employees.
The Decision to Adopt
“The minute I saw the dog in the sewer, I knew we would adopt him. I grew up poor, and I feel an extreme sense of responsibility to help others. The fact that the company that I work for found a dog that was left for dead, I saw an opportunity to do right by this animal,” says Jeremy Recklein, general manager for IPR’s Great Lakes Region. “I couldn’t imagine being in that situation where I was at the bottom of a 17-ft sewer, with a broken leg. I have a sincere appreciation for dogs. Whether you have a good day or bad day, rich or poor, no matter what is going on in your life, dogs are always there happy to see you and greet you. I know the joy that my dogs bring me and my family and, quite frankly, it is the least that I can do.”
Recklein, who was on the road at the time of the dog’s discovery, contacted Theo Brooks, operations manager, and told him to let the DACC know that the Recklein family would adopt the dog. Oscar — the name given to the 3-year-old shepherd foxhound mix by the DACC — had some hurdles to overcome before heading to the Recklein home.
Due to injuries sustained in the sewer, Oscar required a surgery at the DACC to install nine pins in his right front leg. From there, he spent some time at a foster recovery home before heading to the Recklein family. To help offset the cost of the surgery, the family created a GoFundMe page with a goal of $3,000. Within one week, the page reached $2,306. Any funds not used for Oscar were reallocated to the DACC to help other dogs in need.
Oscar’s New Home
Oscar is now at home with Jeremy and Courtney Recklein, their four children and their two other dogs. Initially, the plan was to rename him Jet, but after careful consideration for what he had been through, and because he was already responding positively to the name Oscar, the Reckleins have opted to call him Oscar “The Jet” Recklein. Why Jet? Jeremy notes that it was because a jetter was the piece of equipment that can easily be attributed to saving the dog’s life.
How is Oscar doing at his new home? “Oscar loves it. He jumps up and sleeps on the couch and he has made himself quite at home. He is a healthy guy and he can really jump,” Jeremy says, adding that they are trying to limit his activity until fully healed.
Oscar joins Butters, a 20-lb, 10-year-old Cavachon and Amber, a 100-lb, 2-year-old Saint Berdoodle (St. Bernard and poodle mix) at the Recklein house. How do the animals get along?
“Butters is more like a cat, in the sense that he wants to relax and be left alone. He is spoiled. Wherever we are, he is at our feet, on our lap or by our heads,” Jeremy says. “Amber, she is incredibly playful and can go non-stop and it appears that Oscar has the same personality.”
And what about the kids? Of course, they loved the idea of having a new dog in the house. Jeremy reports that they are looking forward to the day that he is fully healed and can run around with each other.
“When Oscar is healthy, our house will be a level of chaos that we have not experienced before… definitely, a very good kind of chaos,” Jeremy says. “I have the utmost respect and love for my wife. Having four kids in and of itself is difficult plus two dogs. Then to ask her to take on a third dog. We both work, but without her, managing our household wouldn’t be possible.”