How much does it cost when the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Public Utilities have to come to the rescue of a basset hound stuck in a drainage pipe? It's a question the city has had to answer at least twice in less than a year - thanks to a 4-year-old basset named Nina from North Seattle.
It surely made for an interesting day's work for all involved.
And it was the second time it's happened.
Back in April 2012, Nina pulled a similar trick and crawled a full 250 feet into a similar drainage pipe just around the corner. Just like the incident earlier this month, firefighters and SPU responded, and a remote controlled vehicle was used to back the dog out.
But back to the original question: How much does that cost?
While Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore says there were no costs associated with Nina's rescue that wouldn't have been incurred on a more normal day a the office - the firefighters were already on duty, and no special equipment was used - according to SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan the "preliminary total" for freeing Nina from the drainage pipe on Feb. 7 was $2,903.63 - a figure that includes man hours and the cost of repair. I first asked SPU for an estimate on the total cost two weeks ago, but apparently it took some number crunching by a claims guy (no word on how much that cost).
"The lion's share of the total came from fixing the pipe," says Ryan of the costs associated with Nina's recovery effort. Ryan says the money will be paid out of SPU's field operations budget.
Though nearly three grand to free a basset hound isn't chump change (or, admittedly, a king's ransom for a big city utility company), Moore says it's important for people to know that if they call 911 Seattle Fire Department will mount a full-throated response - even if it's for something like a dog caught in a drainage pipe.
And even if it's not the first time it's happened.