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French dog owner gets €10,000 bill over rescue of pet stuck in pipe

The Jack Russell had been missing for two days but was eventually found by another dog

Alian Chichignoud and his dog Gaïa back together again Pic: Alian Chichignoud

A Frenchman was left facing a €10,000 bill while on a trip to Switzerland after his dog got stuck in a pipe and had to be rescued. 

Alian Chichignoud’s 12-year-old Jack Russell dog, Gaïa, did not return after running off to chase a fox. She was found two days later and had got stuck inside a 20cm diameter pipe at the side of the road, one metre below ground. 

“Two days after she went missing, I was out searching for her and one of my other dogs stopped at a drain grate next to the road, sniffing and scratching,” Alian, a 25-year-old Ardéchois, told The Connexion. “I removed the grid, and that’s when I heard Gaïa crying and barking.” 

Alian’s only option was to call the Swiss emergency services for assistance. “I first reassured my dog ​​by telling her that I was coming, that we were going to get her out of there. I then quickly called 112, completely panicked, and told them that my dog ​​was stuck in a pipe,” he said. 

A police patrol arrived and after analysing the situation called the firefighters. Several hours later, and after an intervention that required digging and a specialised company to drill into the pipe, the emergency services managed to free Gaïa. 

While Alian’s biggest worry was over and his dog was safe, another concern was just around the corner when he received a bill for the rescue to the value of 9,241 Swiss francs, more than €9,700.

“When I saw the bill I thought I was dreaming, I was in shock,” told Alian. “Other emotions quickly set in such as anger, but above all, the one that still exists today when I think about it, is disgust. It disgusted me – I had the impression that my distress and love for my dog had been used to fill their pockets.”

Credit: Alian Chichignoud/Facebook

Appeal for donations

On receiving the bill Alian, who is not currently working, launched an appeal asking for donations to help pay within the next 30 days. “The fundraiser was launched, for the sole reason that I don't have the necessary funds. I'm not even in a position to be able to take out a bank loan,” he said.

The online fundraiser reached its goal of €7,000 on Wednesday, October 25 after just ten days. 

“To have already received so many donations and to reach the goal, is truly magnificent,” said Alian. “It has really restored my faith in humanity. I am so touched. I cried, it’s impossible to remain stoic in the face of so much generosity, so much love. It's just wonderful! 

“I will never forget it. All these people who don't know me or my dogs, all these people we've never met, being so kind. There are no words strong enough, I can never thank them enough!”

The fundraising appeal was promoted with the help of Le cercle de P.A.N. (an association for the protection of animals and nature).

What was included in the bill?

The rescue operation in Vaulruz, in the canton of Fribourg, lasted nine hours and mobilised Swiss firefighters and a specialist company to dig and drill the pipe with the help of cameras.

Credit: Alian Chichignoud/Facebook

In detail, the bill includes the intervention of six firefighters throughout the day (4,000 Swiss francs), as well as the mobilisation of several vehicles (1,650 Swiss francs) and cameras (2,400 Swiss francs) to locate the dog. 

This sum includes the municipal share of 377.50 Swiss francs (approximately €400) for the commune of Vaulruz, taking the final bill up to 9,241 Swiss francs, more than €9,700.

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