Dog's rescue from an unused well serves as a safety reminder

A dog in Redwood County needed to be rescued after it fell into an used well.  (Morgan Fire Department)

A Minnesota dog’s rescue is serving as a reminder to keep unused wells sealed. 

Authorities say Gannicus, a springer spaniel, fell into a well on his family’s newly purchased property in Redwood County on Feb. 16. 

Heather Neid, who had recently moved to the property 10 days before with her family, including two young children and two dogs, said she woke up that morning and let the dogs out like she always does. 

When only one of the dogs returned to the house, Heather began to worry. She could hear Gannicus barking, but he was not coming home. Fearing a car may have hit him, Heather went out to find him. That is when she heard her dog barking at the bottom of the well. 

Responders from Redwood County and the Morgan Fire Department quickly arrived at the scene and began to get Gannicus out of the well, which was nearly 20 inches wide and 30 feet deep. 

Initially, responders say they were unsure they would be able to get the pup out. Lucky for them, when they lowered a rope down he clamped onto it and didn’t let go as he was lifted out to safety.

"This incident could have been much, much worse," Robert Nielsen, a district hydrologist with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Well Management Program, said in a release. "We can all be thankful that it was Gannicus that ‘discovered’ the well, and that he was able to be rescued quickly."

The Minnesota Department of Health is using the incident to remind the public to seal up all unused wells. 

In this case, the Neid family had just purchased the property and were unaware of the well’s existence. 

"Our paramount concern with unused wells is the potential physical hazard presented by an open well," Nielsen said. "We’ve had several stories of wildlife or pets falling into wells or well pits, but thankfully none involving a person. Unused wells also pose a threat to groundwater and human health through contamination."

MDH says some best practices for unused wells are:

  • Minnesota statute and rule require that unused, unsealed wells must be sealed by a licensed well contractor.
  • Property owners SHOULD NOT attempt to fill an unused well themselves – it MUST be done by a licensed well contractor.
  • A well owner is always given the option to place an unused well back in service, but often this isn’t feasible because the well’s condition has deteriorated beyond repair.
  • Minnesota law requires the seller of property to provide information to the buyer and the state (MDH) about the location and status of all wells on the property.
  • Status is divided into three categories: In-use, Not-in-use, and Sealed by a licensed well contractor.
  • More information on well disclosures can be found at: Well Disclosure
  • Questions about unused wells can be directed to MDH Well Management staff or a local well contractor. The Well Management main phone number is: 651-201-4600 or 800-383-9808
  • More information on sealing unused wells is available at: Sealing Unused Wells