Dramatic Dog Rescue
by PCW ~, 29 June 2010
South & Mid Wales CRT. Dog Rescue. 13/14th June 2010.
[Sensitive readers might find a few of the pictures rather upsetting]
At 15.30hrs on Sunday 13th June we were called out by South Wales Fire Brigade
to assist in the rescue of two 11 year old Springer Spaniel sibling bitches
who had fallen down a rift at about 12.00hrs Sunday.
Both dogs had vanished down a rift (which, typically, had been completely covered).
They were in separate sections and we could see one dog, Phoebe, about 9m down.
The fire crew had previously cleared some of the top and had made an attempt
but it was too tight. The second dog, Sadie, could not be seen but was heard.
Owing to the time we decided to go first for the dog we could see and started
to enlarge the rift about 2m to one side of her. Initial inspection had shown
that the second dog was somewhere in a much narrower section about 10m further
along the rift from Sadie. It was obvious that this site would require heavy
digging equipment to go from above as initial inspection showed the rift to
be narrower and it was hoped that we could approach her from along the rift
where Phoebe was trapped.
Having lost daylight I had initially intended to call a halt at 21.30hrs bearing in mind the safety of the team and that we had to negotiate the track back to the cars without the fire service Argocat but we were so close that I did not need much persuading to carry on.
The dog owner took Phoebe home at 22.15hrs. The rift between the two dogs proved totally blocked with rock and soil and appeared to narrow. We had still not seen Sadie or had heard her since about 18.00hrs. so we called it a night. Toby did two runs of kit and team to the cars. Leaving the forest there was a car blazing merrily just before the gate. At 00.30am Monday I informed the police that we had stood down and would be back in the morning.
By 11.00hrs Monday we were back with some fresh faces and Tony's Kango and
generator. The fire service arrived with a tender and the Argocat and we transported
gear and people back to the site with the added benefit of Gary Mitchells off
roader. We had left the quadpod and tent on site with most of the rope and hardware.
Hannah and Joel had phoned earlier to say they were now available and after
initially putting them on standby I called them out. Very shortly after arriving
Clare was ready to descend and immediately passed Pyro's lowest point - we were
all pretty stunned at how deep she got. It was very tight and she was not quite
on the best line so we got her out. After a caffeine, chocolate and nicotine
fix she declared herself ready to try again. The second time she got even closer
to Sadie but there was no chance of actually reaching her. Sadie had now been
trapped for over 30hrs. We assume Sadie had become wedged after the initial
fall but we could not see where she had originally gone down. It is unlikely
that she fell directly to her current position as there was no hole above her
until we made a small one. Things were looking pretty desperate for her - her
breathing was getting shallow and she had had no water, although she was still
giving an occasional, but increasingly distressed, woof.
Sadie was pulled out. As she reached the bottom of our shaft she was in severe distress and the collar was cut off as soon as she was in hand. She may have been breathing when she reached the bottom of the shaft but when she was handed up to safe ground she had stopped. Then something remarkable took place. Fireman M Davies cupped his hands around her nose and started mouth to nose and Fireman S Steward started compression. And they got her back. After a few minutes she started to breathe spontaneously and her eyes began to move. We gave her oxygen and she began to stabilize.
After so much hard work by the team and fire crew, with Sadie hanging on for
so long, it is difficult to describe the sense of loss and then the elation
as she breathed. There were more than a few tears shed - and not just from the
owners and cavers. Time out was 19.30hrs.
Snagging Sadie by hook was the only option we had left. She was very firmly wedged and we could not get a rope or sling below her to try and lift her up. Her breathing was getting noticeably worse. We were left with little choice and at least we gave her a fighting chance when she had had none. On reflection the dog catcher loop may well have caused more severe damage than lifting her by her collar.
It was a cracking team effort ably assisted by the fire crew. The photographer who was onsite both days remarked to me that he was impressed by the way the teams just got on with it without orders being given - just discussion and action. The fire crew recognise that we have a very specialised skill set. Some of the crew remembered us from a sheep rescue in the area and we simply worked together seamlessly.
All rescues are very much a team effort and we all do our best. This time I
feel I do have to single out Hannah, Clare and crew leader Mark Davies and fireman
Rob Stewart. Hannah and Clare really pushed it. Hannah's made three attempts
and eventually managed to go head down and clip into Phoebe's collar. Clare's
determination got her close enough to Sadie to enable her collar to be hooked
and Mark Davies's swift action with mouth to nose resuscitation saved the dogs
life. We are writing on behalf of the team to the RSPCA to see if it possible
that they be recognised for their efforts. Some may remember a award to a team
member for services to a duck many years ago!
There are lessons to be learned - whenever is there not! They are in hand.
I have been asked to pass on thanks by Jason and Sandra. They are extremely grateful for our efforts and very impressed by our and the fire crews perseverance and skill.
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