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Chandler firefighters rescue dog stuck in six foot tortoise hole

Posted at 9:00 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 16:48:46-05

It was an unusual day and an unusual rescue operation in the backyard of a Chandler home Wednesday. One that begins with a rather unusual reptile.

"They're awesome animals it’s just if you have a dog that'll go down into the chamber of death that your tortoise digs, it's not a good fit," said Toby Passmore, referring to his giant tortoise named Scully.

Passmore says early Wednesday morning his Scottish Schnauzer named Ticklish Rubin was no where to be found. He and his wife checked all over the house and then the back yard.

"We could hear him faintly barking," said Passmore.

To his surprise and dismay, the barking seemed to be coming from underground.

"I immediately, frantically tried to start digging him out myself," said Passmore.

But how did he get there? Well, back to Scully, to say the African spurred tortoise like to dig would be an understatement. The species is known to create extensive burrows throughout the year and Scully is no exception.

"Usually they only dig about three feet deep," said Passmore.

Scully decided six feet was his depth of choice, but when Ticklish Rubin decided to chase a cat underground, getting out proved to be a massive undertaking.

"This is initially where we thought he was," said Passmore, pointing to a hole about three feet wide leading to a long underground tunnel.

He says when personal recovery efforts failed, he did the only thing he could think of.

"I called Chandler fire and to my surprise they showed up with shovels and a lot of manpower," said Passmore.

"The hole went a lot further than expected so there was a lot of digging that went on over a couple of hours," said Chandler fire.

City workers and firefighters used shovels, back hoes, even cameras to peer down into the hole to check on the poor pup. Carefully moving dirt as to not collapse the earth on top of Ticklish Rubin.

Finally, after excavating nearly a ton of dirt, Passmore went in head first. And with a helpful pull of the ankles, the once black dog emerged brown but unharmed.

The entire rescue captured on cell phone video.

Today, Passmore says he doesn't know if Rubin would have made it much longer and says he only has a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of so many.

"I'm very thankful to have him back and ok, cause like I said that would have been a hard one to live with to lose him like that," Passmore said.