Dramatic 2-Day Rescue Saves Baby Goat From Irrigation Pipe Just Before Storm
The team from the Arizona Humane Society worked tirelessly to get the young goat to safety before the pipe filled with rainwater again.
A baby goat in Phoenix found himself in quite the bind recently after becoming trapped in an irrigation pipe after stormwaters washed him away from his barnyard friends. With more rough weather on the horizon, the efforts of the Arizona Humane Society's (AHS) Field Dispatch Team were nothing short of heroic, who worked for two days to free the goat just in the nick of time.
The saga began with a call to the nonprofit on Aug. 17. Daniella Calderon tells Phoenix NBC affiliate KPNX that she woke up to "gut wrenching" cries coming from underground following a storm. She first thought the sounds were the cries of a baby, but quickly realized it was one of her neighbor's young goats—an 8-month-old kid named Luigi Donatello—who had gotten stuck in a 250-foot-long irrigation pipe after being swept away during the big rainstorm. The AHS dispatched emergency animal medical technicians Andy Gallo and Sydney DeJoy to the scene, who discovered that not only was the goat trapped underground, but no one had any idea as to its whereabouts in the lengthy pipe.
Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for AHS, tells Daily Paws that the incredibly hot summer months make a rescue like this one "especially challenging" in Phoenix, where temps regularly rise into the triple-digits. "Anytime an animal is stuck somewhere, the heat is always a huge concern of ours because they can so easily become dehydrated or overheated," Nelson says.
But the heat wasn't the only risk factor Luigi Donatello faced. Nelson adds that the irrigation pipe was extra concerning given the current monsoon season. "Our team was really racing against the clock because they knew another storm was going to roll through and that baby goat would not be able to survive in the pipe once it filled up with water," she says.
The team worked for two hours trying to pinpoint Luigi's location underground, but reluctantly had to break until the following day when they could return with a special camera that could locate the goat in the expansive 250 feet of subterranean tube. Gallo returned with technician Gracie Watts and trainee Savana Wilcox, who brought plenty of equipment along with them to dig through the concrete and the 12-inch-thick pipe walls.
According to a news release, the team attached over 100 feet of PVC pipe to the camera in an effort to locate Luigi's whereabouts. Despite their best efforts, they still could not be sure where he was—and time was running out. At that point, Watts says the team had not even seen the goat with the underground camera. But as the crew monitored the weather, they knew they were running out of options as another storm quickly approached. They began to chip through an arbitrary patch of concrete in a desperate attempt to free him. "We just kind of went by faith as to where we thought he was," Watts says.
Nelson tells Daily Paws there were moments when the team could hear the goat making noises, but then it would just stop, leaving them to wonder if he was still OK as they continued their digging efforts.
The group dug for three hours before finally making a brilliant discovery. After chipping away a small hole, they were able to spot Luigi a mere 5 feet away from the opening. Gallo even extended his hand down into the tube, where he received a welcome kiss from the little guy.
In a video shared by AHS, the kid appears to be a true champ as rescuers try their best to carve out a space large enough to extract him. The dramatic video shows the moment when the team eventually pulls the goat safely, where he emerges from the hole to the sound of happy cheers.
Nelson says the emergency animal medical team is called to over 9,000 animal rescues a year in the area, but not all of them have happy endings. That's part of what made Luigi's rescue so special, she says, especially after they had to wait for better equipment in a time-sensitive case.
"For them just to be able to have it be a successful rescue when at times they weren't sure if it was going to be… it was very meaningful for them." The rescue was an especially important one to Gallo, a seasoned veteran of the team who called the event the best of his 16-year career.
"We were never going to quit, but you get to that point where you start telling yourself that this isn't going to happen," Gallo says in the release. "He would've drowned down there if we'd left him."
The danger was real. At approximately 1 p.m., the sky opened up in a downpour just as the goat was reunited with his barnyard friends. When the team returned the following day, Nelson says that same pipe was over half-filled with runoff water from the storm. How's that for good timing?
Nelson says the goat is in "great condition" now that he's safe and sound back above ground with the rest of his pals. We'd say this rescue by the heroes at AHS might be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)—get it?!