If a dog is man's beat friend, firefighters in Somerset County Sunday showed just what good friends they can be.

Sunday afternoon, responding to a call about a dog stuck in a storm drain, Warren Township Fire Chief Mark Russo found a full-sized golden Labrador retriever had fallen 8 feet underground, the Warren Township Fire Department said.

The dog, Bailey, was about 1,000 feet from the main parking lot of Somerset County's East County Park off Reinman Road, across a snow-covered field, the department said.

Russo knew he'd need help, so he called in the rescue truck and manpower from Mount Bethel Fire Company, the all-terrain brush unit and manpower from the Mount Horeb Fire Company, as well as personnel from Community Fire Company, all located in Warren Township, the WTFD said.

"Due to the immense amount of snow it was difficult to fully understand the condition the basin and how its associated cast iron parts were lingering above the animal," the fire department wrote in an announcement of the incident.

Rescue teams used low-angle rope systems with safety systems to secure the storm drain lid and grate, and made initial attempts at moving the lid away from the opening — which initially proved unsuccessful, according to the fire department.

The operations lead deployed additional rope systems and additional anchor points as well as the department's all-terrain vehicle for its winching capability, it said.

"Once two rope systems and the winch was setup, the operators began a coordinated removal which successfully removed the several hundred pound lid exposing the opening entirely," the fire department wrote.

The grate portion of the storm drain was secure enough to operate around via ground ladder, according to the fire department. Operators descended into the opening to rescue to dog, who had been underground for about 90 minutes.

"Needless to say, Bailey was quite ecstatic for freedom and the owner took the animal home for a nice bath," the fire department wrote.

The fire department said it turned the hazard over to a Somerset County Parks officer.

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