A dog which was trapped in a rocky crevice was successfully rescued unharmed after five days without food or water.
The incident started when a woman was hiking with her 12-year-old dog, Liza—who fell out of sight into the narrow crevice but could be heard barking.
Staff at Minnewaska State Park Preserve attempted unsuccessfully to access the crevice that evening before dark and made other unsuccessful attempts in the following days to get a camera into the narrow area to check the dog’s condition.
Members of the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were on scene to assist and a specialized plumbing inspection camera from Parks was utilized to reach the dog.
Parks received support from the New Jersey Initial Response Team, a regional volunteer group specializing in cave rescue.
Two NJIRT members were able to descend into the crevice to get the plumbing camera close enough to observe the dog moving in a narrow area, and apparently unharmed.
It was a difficult situation. “This was a tight vertical fissure leading to an even tighter horizontal crack,” Mark Dickey, Chief of the New Jersey Initial Response Team, said in a statement. “Only Jessica Van Ord, our smallest team member, was able to squeeze and contort herself more than 40 feet from the surface to reach the dog.”
Van Ord described shimmying along a narrow passage and then using a hot dog hanging from the end of the catch pole to attract the dog into putting its head into the loop, which allowed another rescuer nearby to close the loop so Van Ord could bring the dog to her.
Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird said, “We are thrilled that it was possible to reunite Liza with its owner,” and noted that the incident was a good reminder of why parks rules were that dogs needed to be on-leash.
Gina Carbonari, Executive Director of the Ulster County SPCA, said, “It’s always heartwarming to not only have such a positive outcome in cases like this, but also to see so many people come together, putting themselves at risk, to save an animal’s life.
“We were all concerned the dog had not survived until Jessica was able to get closer and hear movement. The rejoicing on the surface to that news was just incredible and renewed everyone’s motivation to get this little dog to safety. Every person there played a role in making this happen—an amazing team effort by multiple agencies.”
SPCA officials determined the dog, while hungry and thirsty, was in good health and it was later reunited with its owner. While under observation with the camera, the dog was seen licking the damp walls of the crevice, likely providing itself with moisture that helped it survive.