GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Pepper, a Dalmatian about 15 years old, was on her daily walk when she tumbled into a culvert pipe, causing her to get stuck before being rescued by Goochland County Animal Shelter yesterday.

The dog, who is blind and almost completely deaf, was on a walk with her pet-sitter, Rachael Holder, when she was knocked over by another dog and fell into a ditch near the foot of her driveway. Holder said Pepper tried to claw her way out but couldn’t, leading to her harness falling off, and her backing up into the pipe.

“I was freaking out, like, my heart started racing,” Holder said. “All I could think was ‘I can’t believe this is happening right now.'”

Holder said she was really scared because she knew Pepper didn’t know what was going on, given her visual and auditory impairments.

She said she called 911 — that’s when the animal shelter stepped in and saved Pepper.

Shawn Rutledge — the animal protection officer at Goochland County Animal Shelter who answered Holder’s call — said because Pepper didn’t know where she was when she fell, she kept backing up into the pipe. Every time she would try to stand up, she would get more stressed out and couldn’t escape.

“She was on a leash at the time, but since she slipped into the hole and started getting a little nervous, she slipped out of her leash and started backing up instead of climbing forward,” Rutledge said. “And, she eventually worked her way deep down inside the culvert pipe until she hit some stones she couldn’t pass.”

He said because the pipe was on the ground level, it was fairly easy to coax her to walk forward and come out. The team used a piece of rescue equipment called a “telescopic catch pole.”

“At first, she was a little confused because she didn’t know who we were, new smells; she just came out of a very stressful environment,” Rutledge said. “But, she was happy, well once we got her out and started giving her attention.”