DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – No one knows how Leo got down there, but he wasn’t ready to go gently into that dark night. Little Leo put up quite a fight, and it possibly saved his life.
The sounds of Leo the puppy yelping from deep inside a narrow, open sewer hole drew the attention of a passerby in a west side Detroit neighborhood, and they called the Michigan Humane Society.
Chris Ouwerkerk, the MHS rescue diver, arrived at the scene and knew right away Leo was in a dire situation.
“You heard the dog kind of whining, it was 12-15 feet down, you couldn’t see, it was kind of dark, there was a ladder but it was rusted out, I didn’t want to fall in with him. I got the control stick around one arm and his shoulders, tightened it up … He was tiny, it was easy to pull him out, and then I just lifted him up,” Ouwerkerk said.
He added: “As soon as he was out he was wagging his tail.” Leo was wearing a red collar and leash, making Ouerwerk think he possibly broke away from someone while on a walk and fell into the sewer.
Leo, believed to be a Shepherd mix, is being treated for dehydration, severe emaciation and demodicosis. His prognosis is guarded.
“If no one had called us about Leo, he could easily have perished,” cruelty investigator Mark Ramos said. “Having no food or water and being as under weight as he is, it’s getting colder out there, he could’ve died.”
Leo is being held as a stray animal for four days, in accordance with state law, at the MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care.
Though Leo looks to be a medium-sized dog and is six months old, he weighs just 11 pounds. He is suffering from a weakened immune system as result of his emaciation and dehydration, placing him much more at risk from diseases like parvovirus or from a serious infection. The MHS veterinary team will continue to care for and monitor Leo’s condition as he gains weight and, hopefully, recovers from his ordeal. However, Leo’s condition is very serious and will require significant medical care over the coming weeks.
For more information about the MHS Cruelty Investigation and Rescue Department or to make a donation to rescue and care for animals like Leo, please call 1-866-MHUMANE (648-6263), Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit www.michiganhumane.org.