These firefighters rescued what they thought was a litter of puppies, but turned out to be fox cubs

Sometimes, all it takes is a little reminder that the world might not be such a bad place after all. Just take the likes of Keri Henry. She was one of the thousands who sat watching the news coverage of Hurricane Harvey back in 2017 but knew there had to be a way to help. Keri frantically began to write down information about anyone that needed help and was soon running a command center from her couch as she instructed vehicles and people with boats all across the area to rescue those in need.

Dillon Hill is another unsung hero of the world after he learned that his best friend, Chris Betancourt, had been diagnosed with cancer. The two decided to grab life by the horns as they embarked on the ultimate bucket list before it was too late. So what about the people who make it their life’s mission to save others? That’s right; we’re talking about the emergency services. However, these firefighters were in for a surprise when a routine rescue turned out to be something entirely different.

Another day, another rescue

Firefighters are the brave men and women who have been in charge of some incredible rescues over the years. It seemed as though this department was on the way to another routine call of an animal that had got trapped and now needed to be rescued.

That was until they learned the truth about the animals they had saved. It turned out they weren’t puppies after all, but what could they be?

An emergency call

Amazingly, there are more than 21,000 fire departments all across the nation who work from over 58,000 fire stations. However, it was the Colorado Springs fire department who were about to get an unusual call. The many firefighters and volunteers had all been trained to the max, and now it seemed as though they could tackle almost any situation that stood in their way.

That was until they received news in March 2018 that there were animals stuck in the area who needed to be rescued. The person on the phone revealed the critters were in a storm drain with no way of escaping. This sounded just the job for the fire department. The firefighters all loaded up the truck with everything they could need and were soon on the way to the scene. Everyone knew they needed to act fast.

Prepared for anything

Firefighters all around the world are all specially trained to deal with any kind of situation along the way. As well as putting out fires, these brave men and women are also responsible for aiding in road traffic accidents, helping in natural disasters, and rescuing anyone who gets stuck. In fact, any member of the fire brigade is required to have 100 hours of training before they are allowed to run into a burning building.

That’s not all. These firefighters are also trained to be able to get dressed and ready for the call in under two minutes meaning the workers and volunteers always have to be prepared. All of that gear and clothing can easily weigh up to 70 pounds as these workers rush to save our lives. It seems as though someone in the fire brigade really does need to be ready for anything.

Our four-legged friends

It’s not just people that need rescuing. In fact, departments across the nation often attend hundreds of calls a year as they need to step in and help animals who have found themselves stuck. Soccer nets are a common enemy to deer with antlers as their great additions often become tangled in the netting. Firefighters have also been called to many horse-related emergencies, too.

These enormous animals can weigh hundreds of pounds and may need special winches before they can be lifted to safety. As well as rescuing pets, firefighters are often called to wild animals. Many members of the public have no idea how to help, and often call the emergency services in the hope that their special training can save the day. Now, many fire departments have been seen working alongside animal experts to ensure that everyone makes it to safety.

Hearing their cries

It wasn’t long after they received the call that the Colorado Springs fire department arrived at the scene. The truck pulled up into the small neighborhood at the foot of the Rocky Mountains where it didn’t take long to spot the storm drain. How could the animals have ended up in such a place? The team could all hear their cries and knew they needed to step in and help before it was too late.

After all, they were in a drain meaning that if it started to rain, they would all be washed away. Although it looked as though the weather was on the side, the team still needed to act fast if they were going to pull the animals to safety. They had no idea how long they had been in the drain. The little ones could all be dehydrated by now and could need some emergency treatment.

The source of the noise

The team raced to remove the drain cover to look for the animals that had been creating all the noise. There they were: a litter of puppies! One of the firefighters laid out a sheet, so they had somewhere safe to place the youngsters.

Now, all he needed to do was put on his gloves to ensure the puppies weren’t covered in an unusual smell, and the team could start. They just had to be careful in case mom was in the area. They didn’t want to risk her rejecting her litter once they were pulled to safety.

Questioning the situation

Everyone began to wonder how the puppies had ended up in the storm drain in the first place. After all, they were too young to have climbed there themselves. This meant that someone must have placed them in the drain.

Many members of the team worried they had been dumped there by an irresponsible owner. Surprise pet pregnancies or not having the money to cover the extra mouths to feed can see many people panic about what to do, and they could have hoped the puppies would disappear down the drain.

Coming to the surface

The firefighter started to pull the puppies to safety one by one. There were more little ones in the drain than anyone expected as the worker soon had eight puppies on the sheet by his side! Thankfully, they had now all made it to safety.

It looked as though they were a litter of labrador puppies and although they appeared to be healthy, they wouldn’t have been able to survive down in the drain – especially without their mom close by to raise them.

Taking them to safety

Now they were out of the drain, the team needed to load them into the truck and drive them to safety. Thankfully, they had been able to contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Region who were on standby for their arrival.

The team searched and searched, but they couldn’t find the puppies’ mom anywhere and knew they needed to get the litter into the hands of the experts. They would need to act quickly if all eight were going to make it to safety.

A surprise for everyone

It wasn’t until the team arrived at the shelter that the firefighters were about to learn the truth about the puppies. The volunteers were all on hand to help with the arrivals, but everyone was wondering if the litter was what they seemed.

That’s when one of the vets had some surprising news. It turned out they weren’t puppies after all, and the vet knew exactly what they were. The firefighters couldn’t believe they had just rescued the wrong animals from the storm drain.

Learning the truth

It turned out the litter of puppies were, in fact, a litter of baby red foxes. Fire Captain Brian Vaughn spoke to InsideEdition.com where he explained how all the crew working on the rescue mission were stunned to learn they had just saved foxes instead of labradors.

None of them had any idea they were anything other than dogs since they looked just like puppies. However, the experts continued to explain how this might not be as uncommon as it seemed.

Built to adapt

Believe it or not, but red foxes can actually stand up to 2-foot-9-inches tall when they are fully grown. That’s not all. These mammals are known to be incredibly adaptable to any new situations.

Red foxes are found all across the world living anywhere from desserts to mountains, and grasslands to forests. They have even learned how to live alongside humans in suburbs or on farms. Foxes intelligent nature means they can quickly adapt to new environments in search of food.

Searching for clues

It appears foxes have learned how to survive on a broad diet over the years. As well as rodents and birds, these mammals can also eat small game, worms, vegetables, and even fish. In towns, many foxes have been seen tucking into pet food while others dig through the trash in search of their next meal.

Amazingly, their tail also has its own job. As well as helping to keep them warm, a fox’s tail also acts as a signal to warn others of any danger. That still didn’t explain how these pups ended up in the storm drain.

The perfect home

Thankfully, Travis Sauder soon had an answer. The expert spoke to CBS Denver where he explained how it was the time of year that many foxes started to breed. In fact, females can often have anywhere between 2 and 12 pups in a litter.

Foxes will often have their pups in small dens to keep them safe from the elements – and any predators in the area. The storm drain must have seemed like the perfect place for this mother to raise her young until they were discovered by someone out walking.

Returning to the scene

The team were now left with a difficult decision, but the experts knew the best thing to do was to return the litter to where they were found. Everyone believed they were rescuing dogs, so acted how they would in any other rescue situation.

Now, they just had to hope that their mom was still in the area and would take her pups back after a trip to the shelter. Thankfully, the firefighters had tried their best not to cover them in their smell, but she might have seen her young ones leave already.

A plan B

The shelter didn’t plan on putting the pups back in the drain and hoping for the best. No, the team would be there to keep an eye on the young ones to ensure they were accepted by their mom. Plus, they had a plan in case she was a no-show.

The shelter agreed that if the pups were abandoned, then they would take them to a licensed rehab center where they could be looked after until they were fully grown. If that was the only option, then hopefully they could one day be released back into the wild.

Call the experts

So what are we supposed to do if we are in nature and find an animal that might need some help? Although the experts say it might seem as though the animal is in danger, it’s best to wait for an animal expert so they can adequately judge the situation.

Some people might not know the animals they are dealing with, and stepping in might cause more harm than good – even if everyone is doing their best to ensure that everyone is safe!