Dog Rescued From Cliff
Kevin Hughes and Rusty Brannigan are both dog lovers. Neither had to think twice when they got the call around 6:30pm Thursday to rescue a dog stranded on a cliff for at least two days in Emerald Mines in rural Mitchell county.
"It came to us as a technical rescue," said Hughes. "When we got there we could see he was very anxious, He didn't know what to do."
The two men are volunteer Battallion Chiefs for Parkway Fire and Rescue. Each has extensive training in rappelling. It's what they would have to do to save the pit-bull mix.
"People had heard the dog barking and they thought it was coming from inside the cave," said Chrissy K. McVay, a volunteer with Mitchell County's Animal Rescue.
The men first rappelled sixty feet into the mine. That was a mid-point in the mine where the dog was stranded. Once they got there they spent about fifteen minutes calming the animal down.
"Once we started talking to him he began to wag his tail," said Brannigan. But the hardest part was yet to come. The men made a makeshift harness and put it on the dog to hook him up to a line.
"We just made a four-legged loop harness for him. It went around all four legs and we tied it off in the center," said Hughes. "We hooked him on the line and lowered him down."
The dog had another forty feet to go. Both men agreed it was tense knowing the animal could fall to its death.
"He was suspended along the side of the rock. All his weight was on the harness just lowering him down into the arms of our Chief," said Hughes.
Everyone at the scene from rescue staff to shelter volunteers, breathed a sigh of relief when the dog made it to the bottom of the mine.
Another team was there with an inflated life boat. They put the dog in and paddled to the other side of the mine where they could then access the road.
"I love animals," said Brannigan. "I don't want to see any animal suffer."
"It was a relief when we got him on the ground," said Hughes.
Chrissy K. McVay was shooting video of the rescue. For her, the biggest moment was when the dog started looking at the two men as if he knew they were there to save him.
"I about went into tears, thinking to myself, he knows he's got help," said McVay.
After the dog was safely brought out and taken to Mitchell County's Animal Rescue shelter, the group had to come up with his name.
"His name is Cliff," said Hughes.
"We got him off a cliff so that makes sense," said Brannigan.
The dog is about six-years-old and has a very sweet disposition. He's calmed down from his ordeal and slowly is starting to wag his tail. His only injury is a small scrape on his back leg. Other than that and one harrowing evening rappelling down a cliff, the pup is ready for a new home. This is actually the second dog in two years that the Parkway crew has rescued from the same mine.
"It's just as rewarding as saving a human life," said Brannigan. "I'm just glad the outcome came out as well as it did."
If no owner comes forward, the volunteer firemen are considering adopting Cliff as their station dog.
"He's perfectly content right here," said Hughes. "I think he has to come with us."
Click here to see the dog rescue video.
By Kimberly King
Follow Kimberly on Twitter @KimKingReports