Alpharetta firefighters made a special rescue recently, saving eight ducklings as their mother flew overhead keeping an eye on another threat to her babies. And now the firefighters have earned PETA's Compassionate Fire Department Award.
Carla Britton spotted the mother duck circling a metal grate and quacking like crazy as she was walking away from her office building at Parkside Terrace West, 3780 Mansell Road. That looked odd, and at first she started to walk away but something about that scene bothered her.
"I got closer and heard a bunch of little quacks. That was when I realized it was coming from the grate," Britton said. "I looked in and could see several ducklings running around frantically trying to figure out how to get out while the mother duck just kept waddling around quacking neither of them knowing what to do."
Britton said she'd like to say she handled her next steps well, but she went into a bit of a panic trying to save those young ducks. A few calls to local animal groups failed to reach any help, so she called PETA. She's a member of the organization and said she knew they could at least tell her who to call. But the people on the other end of the line at PETA did more than that, calling Alpharetta's 911 dispatch center for help. The PETA representatives even kept in touch to make sure the ducklings were safe.
In just a few minutes the Alpharetta firefighters had arrived outside SAI Global's corporate headquarters, so Britton said she grabbed a cat carrier out of her car to help with the rescue.
The ducklings were in a pipe section between two grates a few feet apart.
"When the one fireman jumped in the ducklings got scared and ran to the other side. So another fireman jumped in that section and ran them back to the guy with the carrier," said Britton, a staff accountant with SAI Global.
The two firefighters stayed in the pipe until they had all eight ducks.
Britton and the firefighters put the cat carrier in the grass nearby and waited for the mother duck to return. Once the duck was spotted, they opened up the carrier and walked away.
"Both mom and babies started quacking and ran together. The mom looked around like she was counting heads. Once she seemed satisfied that all were accounted for they all waddled off together," Britton said.
Less than 30 minutes passed from the time that PETA placed the phone call until the duck family was safely reunited, according to PETA.
"Thanks to their dedicated and swift action, these firefighters took what could have ended in tragedy and turned it into the happiest possible Mother's Day for a loving mother duck and her family," says PETA Associate Director of Cruelty Investigations Stephanie Bell. "Alpharetta is very fortunate to have first responders who are ready to protect and serve all residents—including the ones with wings."
The fire department will receive a framed certificate, a letter of appreciation, and a box of vegan chocolates from PETA.