If you've ever heard a baby fox screaming for its mother on a dark spring night — foxes can sound eerily human — you'll know why a team of volunteer firefighters in Harford County was alerted to the howls of a desperate pup trapped in a storm drain in Edgewood late Tuesday.
But thanks to the yipping plea for help, the furry redhead ended up getting a ride in a fire truck and spending the night with a bunch of firefighters at the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Station.
The firefighters are "tasked with protecting lives, not just human," the station said in a news release.
In a photograph released by the station, the young fox — whom the fire crew nicknamed "Pierce," after the fire truck manufacturer — curls in a ball on the lap of a fully-outfitted fireman.
The crew received a call at about 10 p.m., and found the pup in a storm drain in the 1700 block of Melwood Court.
"Firefighters donned their protective firefighting suits, climbed down a ladder and rescued the fox," the station said. "Once the fox was placed on the ground, it was noted that the animal walked with a limp and appeared to have an injured leg."
The firefighters called Harford County Animal Control, the state Department of Natural Resources and "several local and regional veterinarians," with no luck.
So, with "the animal's health being in jeopardy," they took the pup back to the station and embarked on "an extensive online campaign" to use the Internet "to find help."
Eventually they reached an employee at the Chadwell Animal Hospital in Abingdon, who, along with colleagues, gave them advice throughout the night.
About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Pierce got his second ride from firefighters, this time to Chadwell. The young fox will be treated at the animal hospital until he is well enough to be transported to the Phoenix Wildlife Center, station officials said.
The firefighters thanked people on social media accounts who expressed support for their helping the small animal.
They also took the opportunity to remind the public that the Harford County Health Department is sponsoring a rabies vaccination clinic between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at the fire station, 1403 Old Mountain Road South in Joppa.