When professor and speleologist Rick Haley decided to help map a cave on August 6, he had no idea he would end up staging a rescue mission – let alone reuniting a lost dog with its owner.
Haley, along with a team of about 30 cavers, was mapping a cave north of Perryville, Missouri, as part of a project for the Cave Research Foundation. The cave is part of the Berome Moore Cave System, the second largest cave system in the state, measuring about 35 km, he told CNN .
Haley, 66, who was involved in logistics and problem management on the expedition, left the cave to meet another speleologist and an assistant chief of the local fire department.
“Glad you’re here,” the fire chief said to Haley. “You can help us rescue a dog in the cave.”
Another group of parents and children visiting the cave during the day found a dog at the bottom of the cave before asking Haley for help.
Haley and fellow speleologist Gerry Keene, both with specialist cave rescue training, had to crawl and squeeze through tight passages to get to the dog.
The dog was in bad shape, Haley said. “She didn’t appear to have any injuries,” he said. “But man, she was really malnourished. She was skin and bones. It had mud on it.”
The lost canine was “lethargic” and reluctant to walk, Haley said. He put a blanket in a backpack and she went inside, allowing them to carefully handle her out of the cave.
The rescue mission took over an hour, according to Haley. While rescue training does not cover dog rescues, he explained that “many of the same principles you would use for a person can be used for a dog” — like keeping them warm and dry and being careful of any injuries.
“The dog was in bad shape,” Haley said. But once she was out of the cave, “her spirits perked up a little.”
A member of the caving team scoured the neighborhood with a photo of the dog in the cave before identifying its owner, who “was surprised to see the dog,” Haley said.
According to Haley, the owner said 13-year-old Abby had been missing since June 9 – meaning she could have been in the cave for nearly two months.
Haley said it’s still unclear how the dog got so far into the cave. She may have been chasing an animal like a mouse or raccoon, he said, speculating that flooding in the cave caused by heavy rains may have driven her deeper into the cave system.
“It feels good” to be part of the rescue, Haley said. He also credited the work of the team of speleologists working with the Cave Research Foundation.
“I was one of the only people on the surface at the time the rescue needed to happen,” he said. But “if there were all 30 cavers there, you would have found 30 people facilitating this rescue.”
Source: CNN Brasil