WESTTOWN TOWNSHIP—By nearly everyone's account, Fox should not be alive.
The 15-year-old Corgi escaped from Tony and Pamela Boulos' home on Cheyney Drive in Westtown on Christmas Day, making his exit out the front door as family entered for Christmas festivities. The family pet, nearly blind with a severe hearing loss, was exposed to sub-freezing temperatures with wind chills in the teens for nearly 22 hours.
After about an hour, Tony and Pamela noticed Fox missing and went outside to search. They put a lost dog message on social media and the Next Door app, creating a search party of nearly two dozen people.
Then Tony, an active member of Fame Fire Co. No. 3 who is the station's representative for Firefighter of the Year, called out the cavalry - in this case his friends at the fire company he calls "family."
"I texted everyone I knew," Tony said. "They told their friends. It's unbelievable the power of Facebook, the Next Door app and the support of neighbors to help us."
After spending the entire Christmas Day searching for Fox, and coming up empty, Tony and Pamela and their children went to bed disappointed and exhausted. The couple did not sleep much but decided to restart the next day, in hopes of a miracle. Tony said he was realistic in his believe that it would be a recovery effort.
"Neither of us slept that night," Pamela said. "it was horrible."
Early the next morning, Julie Morse and her husband Kevin Parker who live in Westtown in another neighborhood helped the Boulos' canvass the area. About 9 o'clock, Parker told Tony he heard a faint yelp by a sewer grate.
When emotions kicked in I ran home to grab whatever tools I could find to pop open the sewer grates while calling the Captain for help.
"My emotions kicked in and I ran home to grab whatever tools I could find to pop open the sewer grates while calling the captain (of Fame) for help, telling him I need hands, that my dog is in the sewer, trapped in the sewer system."
Tony wasn't expecting what happened next. Greg Witmer, Fame Fire Co. captain, arrived with about a dozen firefighters, sirens wailing, dressed in full gear, for a confined space rescue.
"This was unique because (Fox) was 50 feet in a storm water drain," Witmer said. "We normally train for humans, but this is a similar situation. The grate had been removed when we got there and we followed normal procedures. We checked the area, checked for gas and made sure it was safe for our rescuers. We added ventilation to get fresh air down there. Our rescuers suited up as normal, made entry and got Fox out of there."
There was a small amount of water in the drain and the ground was saturated, so when Fox got pulled out, he was soaking wet.
But there are no words to describe the feeling of Fox being handed to Tony and Pamela.
"I'm part of those guys," Tony said about his friends at Fame Fire Company. "They don't get enough recognition for what they do.
Said Pamela: "People came from all over to look, there were fire trucks and everyone was clapping. But when he got pulled out, he looked clean."
Fox was taken to the veterinarian to be checkout out. He was issued a clean bill of health after being given IV fluid.
Tony said it was a miracle Fox was found because he does not bark, and the chances of someone being over the sewer grate at the exact time he let out a hallow yelp are slim.
He also said he is thankful to live in a neighborhood where he is surrounded by caring neighbors, and especially his volunteer friends at the fire company.
"They are like brothers and sisters," Tony said of the Fame Fire Company.
Tony and Pam said they are grateful to their neighbors, the Casey, DiGiorgio, Horne, Gilroy, Montalto, and the Ciunci families for their assistance.