Deputy rescues four-legged friend

Deputy John Enriquez of the Bee County Sheriff's Office cradles in his hands a chihuahua puppy April 6 that he rescued from the ventilation duct of a home on Private Buckskin. (Contributed photo)

A quick trip to get a soft drink from a nearby convenience store quickly turned dramatic for some Bee County residents. 

Ralph Schupp said that on the evening of April 6, he and his wife decided to walk from their home in the Hilltop Trailer Park on Private Buckskin to a nearby Stripes, where they each bought a fountain drink and walked home. Once they entered the house, they knew something was wrong and that it involved one of a week-old litter of puppies recently born to their chihuahua.

“The puppy rolled out of the little bed and fell into the hole (for the vent),” Schupp said. “We heard yipping and crying and couldn’t find it.”

Schupp said he recently had worked on the floor in the bedroom of the manufactured home and had not resecured the vent cover. One of the couple’s cats had found a damaged portion of the air duct under the house, crawled through it, and pushed off the cover to escape.

“I was afraid to go under the house and cut (the duct) with my grinder because I didn’t know where  the puppy was and I didn’t want to cut it.”

Schupp called the Bee County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy John Enriquez was among those who responded between 10:30-11 p.m. Shortly after his arrival, Enriquez said he already was preparing for the possibility that he might have to take off his shirt and belt and climb underneath the house to rescue the puppy. 

“I said, ‘You don’t have to get down there,’” Schupp recalled. “He said, ‘I’m getting paid for it.’”

First, he got the lockout kit from his patrol vehicle and removed his body armor. Enriquez used a tool from the lockout kit to reach into the vent to try and fish out the tiny puppy. But the puppy was out of reach.

“I stuck my arm in, then stuck a coat hanger in, and the wimpering was getting louder,” he said. “We used a cell phone and turned the camera on to take a picture inside the vent. It was right there and I reached in and pulled the puppy out.”

Schupp said the puppy originally was part of a litter of six, but one had died after it was smothered by its mother.

“They didn’t want to lose another one,” said Enriquez, a self-professed animal lover.

Such a call is all in a day’s work for Bee County deputies, who never know what they’ll experience on their shift. Sheriff Alden Southmayd said, “You never know what you’re going to get. But what I like about it is that no matter what it is, our deputies are going to take care of it.

“ ... We handle different calls kind of regularly, either chasing down bad guys or getting puppies.”

Enriquez, who came to Bee County 13 months ago after a stint with the Yoakum Police Department, said that his mother cried when she learned of his actions. Holding the tiny puppy in his hands added a bright spot to the evening, which prior to that included arresting two people charged with reckless driving and responding to a disturbance call.

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