Deputy helps rescue drowning bull

Crews used a winch to pull animal to safety

Even as Michael Collins was mowing the grass next to a large retention pond he could hear the sounds of a desperate animal.

"I heard loud splashing," Collins said. When he crossed through the barbed wire fence surrounding the pond on Madison Avenue, the landscaper soon discovered what was making the noise.

A brown colored bull was lying on its side, barely breathing.

"As soon as you came up here the animal couldn't roll left or right," Collins said. "It was underwater. His head kept going under."

Not knowing how to help, Collins dialed 911 and then videotaped the bull with his cellphone, occasionally pleading with it to get out of the water.

When deputy Christina Ammons arrived, she immediately rushed to see what was happening.

"I saw big nostrils going underwater and staying underwater with water blowing out," Ammons said. An animal lover herself, she didn't hesitate to jump into the retention pond to rescue the bull.

"I stripped everything off that the sheriff's office really cares about," she joked. "And then I got in."

For the next three hours, Ammons and her partners kept holding the bull's head above the water's surface as Hillsborough County Fire Rescue brought a truck with a winch and slowly attached the bull to several straps.

Slowly but surely, the winch tugged the bull to safety. 

"I'm amazed that the deputy was able to hold his head up out of that water," said Charles Cochran, the bull's owner. "You're looking at several hundred pounds."

Despite nearly drowning and the stress of the rescue, the bull seemed to be recovering well. After a couple of hours of resting on the grass, it managed to regain his feet and walk back to the other cattle grazing by the pond.

Cochran said despite owning the bull for many years he never gave the bull a name until Friday morning.

"Lucky," he said.  "For sure."

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