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NASHVILLE — Reporters descended on the Nash County Sheriff’s Office last week. But it wasn’t murder — or a jailbreak — that brought out the press.
Instead, the happy-ending story of an 11-year-old Spring Hope boy, his hapless puppy and a Good Samaritan deputy made headlines and the 11 o’clock news.
The heartstrings-tugging tale reverses the trope often played for laughs: “What is it, Lassie? Little Timmy’s trapped in a well?”
This time around, the dog, and not the boy, ended up down the hole in need of rescue. And it was no laughing matter.
Driving home, off-duty Deputy Brooks Heath spotted 11-year-old Trey Snow running down the road in his pajamas.
The deputy stopped and soon sussed out that Trey’s dog Riley had ran off, and judging by its desperate barking, had fallen into serious trouble of some kind.
Heath, a K-9 unit deputy, jumped out of his Chevy truck and followed Trey and his dad Marion Snow toward the dog’s yelping.
The deputy, the boy and his dad found the dog had fallen through a rotted wood plank into a well on a neighbor’s property.
“We could see Riley down in the hole with water up to her neck,” Trey said. “She was on her hind legs and was jumping and clawing trying to get out. It was really cold down there. I could feel it.”
Trey wanted to go in after his dog, but Heath had the elder Snow hold the deputy’s feet as he lowered himself into the 10-foot deep hole.
Heath grabbed Riley and Marion Snow pulled them both out of the well.
A nearby veterinary hospital treated Riley for exhaustion, head trauma and infection. The 7-month-old female puppy still has a limp.
Trey said a veterinarian told him the dog’s survival after such an ordeal was nothing short of miraculous.
Heath told The Enterprise last week that he spoke with the neighbor who had just recently purchased the property and what everyone is calling a well is most likely an old holding tank for fish. The neighbor thought the tank was secure and promised to make sure it is now.
The Snow family didn’t know Heath, so Trey wrote a thank-you letter and his mom Jill Snow posted it to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page.
“Sheriff (Keith) Stone, your deputies are great people who are always helping out in our community and looking out for ways to protect and serve,” Trey wrote. “I only wish I could remember your deputy’s name so my pup and I could personally thank him.”
The story spread like wildfire. After numerous media inquiries, Stone held an Aug. 6 press conference to give Trey a chance to properly meet and publicly thank Heath.
Of the media frenzy sparked by the Facebook post, Jill Snow told her son, “Next time, you’re delivering the thank-you letter by hand.”
This story isn’t the first time a Nash County deputy has been singled out for community service above and beyond the call of duty.
In June while vacationing at Emerald Isle, Capt. Allen Wilson pulled a girl he didn’t know to shore as she struggled with strong ocean currents.
Last summer, Deputy Scott Bass facilitated the donation of a new bicycle to a woman who walked a dozen miles each day from her home in Rocky Mount to her job in Nashville and back again.
“We’ve got great deputies,” Stone said. “I’m proud of the job they do. Our core values are honor, compassion and diligence. These guys and gals live it every day.”
As for Trey’s moment of notoriety, he said he’s just pleased to have been able to shine a positive spotlight on Heath and the sheriff’s office.