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Animal Services & Fire Departments Collaborate To Capture Runaway Tortoise

Author: Randall D Larson

Date: 2016-09-21
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You usually wouldn't think the terms "runaway" and "tortoise" would go together.... but not where the intrepid Big Bertha was concerned. This is a great example of interagency cooperation on an incident that normally wouldn't involve the fire dept. But both Santa Clara County Fire (the lifting up) and the Palo Alto FD (the lifting down) in California are service-oriented agencies and had no problem assisting Animal Control in getting this enormous reptile out of harm's way, and ultimately reuniting a giant tortoise with its worried owners.

The Aldabra African tortoise, aptly named Big Bertha, had apparently burrowed under their fence and set off toward points unknown. The tortoise, 11 years old, is known to grow to 300 pounds; Bertha topped out at 134 pounds.

“It’s normally something we don’t handle after hours, but it’s not every day we get a call for a giant tortoise on the loose,” Cody Macartney, of Palo Alto Animal Services, told the Los Altos Town Crier newspaper, which reported that “The animal control officer on call, Jeannette Washington, responded to the scene and spotted the tortoise roaming close to the roadway. Macartney said Washington was able to corral the tortoise and keep it out of danger, but she was unable to lift it by herself. So she enlisted members of the Santa Clara County Fire Department to help heave the massive reptile into her truck.”

But once Washington arrived at the Animal Services shelter in Palo Alto – another problem reared its leathery head: she couldn’t get Big Bertha out of the truck without help.  “So she again enlisted the help of the fire department, this time Palo Alto firefighters, to assist in a safe impound at the shelter,” Macartney told the Town Crier. And there she stayed for three days until her owners, stymied by efforts to locate Big Bertha on their own, contacted Animal Services and got the word Bertha was there.

Read the full story in The Los Altos Town Crier here

- From-The-Field/ (story link & photos via the Palo Alto FD Facebook Page, 9/21/15)



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