KERHONKSON – State Parks announced on October 13th that a dog which was trapped in a rocky crevice near Gertrude’s Nose Trail in Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County was successfully rescued Tuesday evening unharmed after five days without food or water.
The incident started Thursday October 7 with an Ulster County woman hiking with her 12-year-old dog, Liza, which fell out of sight into the narrow crevice but could be heard barking. Park staff 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.
On Tuesday, 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. One rescuer was able to get a modified, extended catch pole around the dog, which was lifted close enough to be placed into a rescue pack and brought to the surface and safety about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird said, “We are thrilled that it was possible to reunite Liza with its owner. This incident is a reminder that the rules requiring dogs to be kept on-leash are an important way to protect loved pets, their owners, and the park’s fragile resources. We are grateful for the perseverance of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve staff, the New Jersey Initial Response Team, the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Kerhonkson Accord First Aid Squad and Accord Fire Department for their efforts that brought this ‘tail’ to a happy conclusion.”
Mark Dickey, Chief of the New Jersey Initial Response Team, said, “This was a tight vertical fissure leading to an even tighter horizontal crack. 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. This incident is a reminder that a single misstep, whether by animal, child, or even adult, near caves or cliffs can be deadly. We were glad to work with the professionals at New York State Parks and the Ulster County SPCA to have the best possible outcome this time.”
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.”
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.
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.
New York State Police, Park forest rangers, Kerhonkson Accord First Aid Squad and Accord Fire Department also were on scene to assist.
Parks reminds all visitors that regulations require dogs to be kept on leashes of not more than six feet at all times, for the safety of the animals as well as of other visitors.