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Workers from SAWS free a puppy that was stuck in a sewer line

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    A San Antonio Water System employee holds a puppy that was rescued from a sewer line on Brunswick Boulevard on Wednesday night.

    A San Antonio Water System employee holds a puppy that was rescued from a sewer line on Brunswick Boulevard on Wednesday night.

    San Antonio Water System

    San Antonio Water System employees rescued a puppy that fell into a sewer main Wednesday night. 

    The puppy — named “Damsel” by staffers with the city’s Animal Care Services — is under observation and recovering after receiving medical treatment overnight. She was rescued from a pipe on Brunswick Boulevard, on the city’s South Side.

    Five-week-old Damsel was one of three puppies that somehow found themselves trapped in a sewer pipe, ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said. It wasn’t clear how they got inside the pipe, which was a private line that connects to the city utility’s sewer mainline. 


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    While the other two dogs were able to be removed quickly, Damsel moved farther into the pipe. When an ACS officer arrived, the puppy couldn’t be seen, but was heard crying and yelping,  Norwood said.

    SAWS crews use camera equipment to locate and rescue a dogSan Antonio Express-News

    “They tried to lure her to the entrance of the pipe with some food and she wasn’t having it,” likely because she was scared and in a tight space, Norwood said. Instead, Damsel moved farther back into the pipe. When she entered the sewer main, she might have been pushed farther by water flowing through the pipe, Norwood said.  

    Firefighters were called to the scene first and attempted to get the dog out of the pipe but were unable to locate her.

    “That’s when our heroes from SAWS got there,” Norwood said. 


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    Crews from SAWS used camera equipment to locate the dog, then were able to push her about 200 feet to a nearby manhole, communications manager Anne Hayden said. A net and bucket were lowered into the manhole and used to bring the pup to the surface. 

    Norwood said Damsel was showing signs of hypothermia, and because she was exposed to and may have ingested wastewater, she was taken by Animal Care Services to an emergency veterinarian. She’s now recovering in the ACS clinic. 

    “This little adventurer is sitting in our clinic now; we’re just observing her and making sure that she’s OK,” Norwood said. 

    The other two puppies who were rescued from the pipe were returned to their owner, but the person felt they couldn’t afford the veterinary care Damsel would need, Norwood said. “They legally relinquished ownership to Animal Care Services, so we could ensure that she received medical care.”

    “A lot of people are obviously expressing interest in her, but she’s not ready for adoption yet,” Norwood said. 


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    She praised the SAWS employees who worked to rescue Damsel.

    “I can’t say enough how much gratitude we have for partners like SAWS,” Norwood said. “They helped save a life.”


    Liz Teitz covers the Hill Country for the San Antonio Express-News. She previously covered education and news in Texas, Colorado and Connecticut. She grew up in Rhode Island and graduated from Georgetown University. Email Liz at [email protected].


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