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Ducklings down the drain

Alpharetta Fire Department receives PETA award for saving ducklings

Alpharetta firefighters Nick Marlin, left, and Tim Hixson saved 10 ducklings from a storm drain May 9 after answering the distress call. Alpharetta Fire and Emergency Services will receive PETA’s Compassionate Fire Department Award. Kathleen Sturgeon. (click for larger version)
May 21, 2013
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Mother's Day weekend guaranteed at least one happy family when Alpharetta firefighters rescued 10 ducklings from a storm drain May 9 and reunited them with their mother.

For saving the ducklings and making one mother duck's day, Alpharetta Fire and Emergency Services will receive the Compassionate Fire Department Award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

When PETA received a call from a member who said that a mother duck had become frantic after her babies fell down a storm drain, they notified the police and fire department, which dispatched a fire truck within minutes.

"It was a good call, I will say that. It made me feel good," said firefighter Tim Hixson. "That call just happened to turn out good. Not all of them do."

Hixson, fire Capt. Greg Pickren, fire engineer Ed Botts and fellow firefighter Nick Marlin responded to the call. When they arrived on the scene, the witness directed them to the storm drain.

"Hixson went to one end of the drain, so if they tried to run away he could scare them back over to us," Marlin said. "So I jumped into the hole where the ducks were, and, of course, they scampered off."

Marlin said the ducks wouldn't cooperate at first, but the woman from PETA had a cat carrier in her car that she let the firefighters use to gather the ducklings.

"As the ducklings came back, we just got them one at a time," Marlin said. "They would come back to us, run away and come back to us until all 10 were in. Once all of them were in the container, we pulled them out of the hole. Then mommy comes flying in — she is obviously concerned."

The mother duck walked out of the woods into the parking lot toward her ducklings without paying any attention to the firefighters, Hixson said.

"The ducklings were having a hard time jumping up onto the curb to get to the grass. That was kind of cute to watch." Hixson said. "Once they all got gathered up, they all stayed together and went on their merry way."

PETA Associate Director of Cruelty Investigations Stephanie Bell said Alpharetta is fortunate to have first responders who are ready to protect every resident. The fire department will receive a framed certificate, a letter of appreciation and a box of vegan chocolates.

"To be honest, we don't really look at awards," Marlin said. "We do our calls one call at a time whether it is a good call or a bad call. It's not about winning awards. While that is nice, it's not why we come to work obviously. Maybe it's just icing on the cake."

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