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Postal Service Cuts Past Red Tape To Save Turtles In Trouble

SUNRISE (CBS4) – There was something in a storm drain that caught the attention of Jeff Brooks' three dogs.

Each night, as he would walk them along a canal near the U.S. Postal Service facility, Sierra, Hunter and Lizzy would go right for it.

"Something was in there. I shined a flashlight in there and, lo and behold, there were turtles inside," Brooks said.

He said he knew the turtles would die if they weren't rescued, so he pulled up the grate on the pipe and fished out the turtles. However, each night he would walk the dogs near the storm drain, he would find more turtles in the same perilous predicament.

"I probably got a total of about 60 turtles out of there," he said.

Soon, rescuing trapped turtles out of the grate became a family affair, with his daughter and wife helping him on a regular basis.   Something had to be done to stop these turtles from getting trapped.

So, Jeff emailed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. When Robin Barrack got that message and the accompanying photos of the turtles in trouble, she pledged to do whatever she could to help.

"This was disturbing to the resident," said Barrack. "That lady took the ball and ran with it, which is unusual for a government agency," Brooks said.

Barrack contacted the South Florida Water Management District, which dispatched an inspector. The inspector verified that the pipe where the turtles were getting trapped did indeed belong to the U.S. Postal Service, which has a mail processing facility nearby.

Barrack then contacted the Postal Service and forwarded Jeff's photos.

While the government has been known to move at a turtle's pace, the response here was lightning fast.  As the USPS went through the process of getting a budget item approved for a long-term fix to the turtles in the pipe, their facilities management team figured out an inexpensive short-term fix: an inexpensive screen from a home improvement store that cost about $10.

"They sealed it off with the screen and now they're working to permanantly seal it off so this can't happen anymore," Brooks said.

Barrack said she was glad to help and glad, for once, to see a positive outcome from the workings of government.

"This is the kind of thing that people who work for cities, counties, states, or the federal government do on a day in, day out basis and no one ever seems to hear about it," said Barrack.

Jeff is happy. Since the screen was installed, he hasn't found any more trapped turtles.  "I can't see something bad to a human or an animal you know an animal is defensless, they don't know what they're doing," he said.

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