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Ducklings rescued by Rochester Animal Control, Sheriff's Office

Lisa Kelley's mind was in the gutter Tuesday morning. Wednesday, too, for that matter.

Her whole body was there, actually, thanks to calls reporting the plight of some ducklings that couldn't quite clear the city's storm sewer grates .

"We get a lot of calls this time of year," said Kelley, who works for animal control for the city of Rochester. "We'll get one, and then it kind of snowballs."

Mamisoa Seraphine Knutson, of Rochester, posted a video on Facebook of the rescue at Third Avenue and Fifth Street Southeast on Tuesday morning.

"I was driving to work and saw a mama duck and 10 ducklings crossing the street and struggling by the curb," Knutson wrote. "I stopped and rushed over. Six of her ducklings had fallen into the drain. A nice older gentleman had also seen this and stopped. We called the non-emergency line who sent a sheriff to wait with us. Animal Control and Community Service finally came and reunited the ducklings! ... Thanks to Rochester Animal Control Shelter and Olmsted County Sheriff's Office for their help."

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Kelley made quick work of the rescue: The video is less than 90 seconds from the time she hops down into the storm sewer, gathers the six ducklings in a large net and hands it over to her co-worker Katie Wilson, who releases the babies to their mama inside a fenced area.

"Sometimes the mom leaves, but both (Tuesday and Wednesday) the mom stayed and waited," Kelley said.

"(Wednesday) morning when we pulled up, she was kind of quacking, but then she got out of our way," she said. "These were really easy (to catch); they stayed together, and it was easy."

Kelley laughed when asked how many ducklings she's saved.

"Oh, I don't know. Hundreds? Thousands, maybe," she guessed. "I've been doing this job for 18 years so I've been in the sewer quite a few times."

Kelley said people who suspect an animal has fallen into a storm sewer should "definitely call Animal Control or the police department" for their own safety.

Not only could they become injured or trapped climbing in or out, but the animal itself could be less than receptive to the help.

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Though intimidating at first, Kelley is no longer afraid of the situations she often faces. They'll go just about anywhere, she said.

"Oh, my gosh. We always try," she said. "The ducklings are so cute; if the mom leaves, we try to find a farm or something that will take them. Sometimes they go farther under (the street), so we have to try to call them back over" in order to effect the rescue.

How does one call a baby duck?

"We've used our phones, pulled up YouTube videos of ducks quacking," she said. "Or we use one of the (ducklings) we catch and put it in a carrier and leave it right there."

Still, Kelley said, "even getting them out of there, you kind of hold your breath and go, 'OK, I hope this doesn't happen again.' You hope they figure it out.

"They're trying to get to water, I believe, a few days after they hatch," she said. "That's where they're headed — whether they get there or not, that's kind of nature's way, I think."

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