Refuse workers Andre Harvey and Scott Clemence had reached the end of their collection route and were about to switch on their compactor once again. Just before the crusher sprang into action, though, they spotted two small paws protruding from the trash…
Harvey and Clemence work for Red River Waste Solutions in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In their jobs, the partners drive around the city collecting trash. And over the course of their careers, they’ve doubtless discovered some pretty odd items discarded in garbage cans.
However, Harvey and Clemence likely found their most shocking discarded item to date in February 2018. The pair had been working on an otherwise unremarkable and rainy winter day, and the hopper had been filling up as usual.
In fact, they had soon collected so much trash that they needed to run the compactor. The machine reduces the space occupied by collected waste by compressing items of garbage together. This enables refuse workers, such as Harvey and Clemence, to pick up extra trash without having to repeatedly empty the truck.
So as Clemence prepared to switch on the compactor, Harvey jumped down from the van to collect some more garbage. Then he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. However, the trash collector could never have guessed what he’d just seen.
Describing what happened in February 2018, Harvey told Indiana news network WANE, “On one of our stops I noticed something leap across, leap across the trash in the hopper.” And unable to determine what it was, the garbage man called to Clemence for help.
Convinced that something was trapped among the refuse, the two men started digging. As they did so, they noticed two tiny paws sticking out of the pile. It was then that Harvey and Clemence realized that a life was hanging in the balance.
The men could just about tell that the animal was a dog and that it was in grave danger. “We happened to see the hind legs, the paws of the dog, upside down actually. So we knew it was drowning,” Harvey explained.
The pair knew at once their rescue mission had become a race against time. “She was buried under water,” Harvey told news website WPTA in March 2018. “So we had to actually get shovels and dig out the trash.”
In his interview with WANE, Harvey added, “We just continued to start digging out trash, digging out trash.” Eventually, the pair were able to reach the battered and bewildered canine and pull her to safety. However, it was clear that the poor pup was not in a good way.
Harvey told WPTA, “She was shivering and cold. So we wrapped her up in one of our shirts that we had and put her inside of the cab to get warm.” Then, once the dog had been made more comfortable, he and Clemence made contact with Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control.
The dog was taken into the care of the city’s animal shelter. There, it was discovered that the pit bull terrier mix was only five months old. She had sustained a number of injuries during her terrifying ordeal, too. Thankfully, though, none of them were thought to be very serious.
Considering what the imperilled pooch had been through, and how close she’d come to being crushed, Harvey thought it was astounding that she hadn’t been hurt more. “She could have got smashed, suffocated, drowned or even pinched,” he told WANE in February 2018.
Harvey and Clemence couldn’t be certain of how long the deserted dog had been in their truck. After all, they only discovered her at the end of their round on Reed Street. Their best guess was that someone had dumped the unloved puppy in one of the trash cans that they had collected.
Amazingly, the trash collectors had run the garbage compactor on about 50 occasions during the course of their shift. So the fact that the dog was alive at all was something of a miracle. “It’s amazing that she was able to survive,” Holly Pasquinelli from Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control told WPTA. “She is a tough little puppy.”
And while Harvey and Clemence had undoubtedly saved the dog’s life, they remained modest about their feat. “Yeah, it was something – something amazing,” Harvey said. “But we felt like it was just our job to do. So nothing out of the ordinary for us. We didn’t expect any fanfare.”
Back at the shelter, staff named the lucky pup Pearl. And as well as caring for the dog, shelter workers were also keen to get to the bottom of what had happened to her. So they appealed to the public for any information on exactly how she had come to be found in the back of a garbage truck.
Elaborating to WANE on the kind of information they were looking for, Pasquinelli said, “If they’ve seen this puppy, if they’ve heard anything, if they know anyone that maybe had a puppy and doesn’t have the puppy anymore.”
While the investigation into Pearl’s past got under way, shelter staff turned their attention to finding the puppy a new owner who would love her. Both Harvey and Clemence considered taking Pearl in themselves, but in the end they decided against it.
Luckily for Pearl, her second-chance story generated plenty of interest. And when Chris Perfect heard about her brush with death, he rushed to the shelter as quick as he could. Before long, he had agreed to foster the puppy, and he hopes to become her permanent new owner in the weeks and months ahead.