Hunched over a drain pipe is not how Sue Burda expected to spend her Friday evening. But Burda, co-founder of the Humane Society of East Tennessee, did just that as she and others attempted to lure a tiny duckling out of a drain pipe at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson off West Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville.
The duckling, one of a group of four, had managed to get trapped in the drain pipe, which runs down the building into the ground and takes a sharp curve, leaving the duckling no way of climbing out.
Burda reached out for help and found a connection through Facebook. She contacted M&S Plumbing, run by Paul McAllister, who responded with his son, Michael, a fellow employee. They arrived with a light and camera to run down through the pipe in hopes of catching a glimpse of the panicked critter.
Once the duckling was caught on camera, the news was good and bad. On one hand, the duckling was alive with mosquitoes for food.
On the other, there was no feasible way to get the animal out without digging into the ground and opening the drain pipe.
To do that, Burda needed the approval of Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson. After a conversation with Sabrina Ayers, vice president of the dealership, the OK was given. Burda assured Ayers the Humane Society would have the funds to make repairs to the dig site.
Burda told The Daily Times that someone had contacted the Humane Society on Facebook saying they would pay a majority, if not all, of the bill required to rescue the duckling. She stated the benefactor wanted to remain anonymous.
The next step was to call city officials to check the dig site. McAllister said the “location process” is a requirement of state law before digging to ensure the absence of underground obstacles, notably gas lines.
McAllister made the call to officials. With hopes high, Burda said they will begin digging this morning.