Joey the Australian shepherd and his owner are breathing sighs of relief after the dog was saved by a Nanaimo Fire Rescue technical rope rescue team this afternoon.
Firefighters and police were called to the Extension Ridge Trail, southeast of Harewood, on Tuesday at about 12:45 p.m. after the dog fell down a geological feature the trail crosses over commonly referred to as the Abyss, a large crack in the bedrock that extends for much of the distance of the ridge.
The dog and its owner were hiking in the area when the dog fell an estimated 18 metres into the fissure and couldn’t get out.
Geoff Whiting, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief of operations, said a technical rescue team was sent into the Abyss to retrieve the dog.
“We weren’t sure if the dog was even alive,” Whiting said. “The reports we got is that they could hear the dog barking at first and then didn’t hear it. It ended up being about 50 feet down.”
Firefighter Justin Lynch was selected to go into the Abyss since he is slim enough to fit into the narrow space. He had to clear branches and other debris that had fallen into the crack to get access to the dog, but eventually made his way down to where it had fallen.
“Fortunately the dog had a harness on him and our guy was able to get down to reach him and talk the dog into getting close to him and ended up hooking one of the lines … up to the harness and they basically pulled the dog up,” Whiting said.
Whiting said it was fortunate the dog was wearing its harness, otherwise there would not have been room for Lynch to hold the dog in his arms and carry him up out of the Abyss.
“The owner was really grateful and it was lucky that we were able to get to [the dog] because of the way that crack is,” Whiting said. “If he had gone a little farther along it would have been hard.”
Once out, the dog appeared to be uninjured, if a little “freaked out” by the experience, Whiting said, and the pet’s owner took the pooch to a veterinary clinic to be checked out. The pet owner said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin that the dog was x-rayed and sustained no injuries at all in the fall. He said he was very grateful to all who took part in the rescue.