ULSTER COUNTY, NY – A dog walking with its owner through an Ulster County state park was rescued Tuesday night after falling into a crevasse five days earlier and surviving without food or water, apparently licking the moisture from rock walls to stay alive.
The poignant story began last Thursday, October 7, when the hiker’s dog got trapped in a rock crevice near Gertrude’s Nose Trail in the Minnewaska State Park Reserve in Ulster County, according to the state parks department.
The 12-year-old dog, Liza, fell out of sight into the narrow crevice, but was heard barking.
Several attempts that night to reach Liza failed, and rescuers struggled for days to place a camera in the restricted area to check on the dog’s condition.
But on Tuesday, members of the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were on hand to help and a specialized plumbing inspection camera from the State Parks Department was used to finally locate Liza.
A rescuer from the New Jersey Initial Response Team, which specializes in cave rescue, was able to descend into the crevasse to bring the camera close enough to see the dog moving through a narrow area.
And Liza looked unharmed.
Then a rescuer managed to place a modified and extended capture pole around the dog and was taken to safety around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“We are delighted that it has been possible to reunite Liza with her owner,” Joshua Laird, executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, said in a statement.
“This incident is a reminder that rules requiring dogs to be kept on a leash is an important way to protect beloved pets, their owners and the fragile resources of the park.”
Mark Dickey, leader of the New Jersey Initial Response Team, described Liza as stuck in a narrow vertical crack that led to an even narrower horizontal crack.
Only Jessica Van Ord, the squad’s smallest member, was “able to squeeze and twist over 40 feet from the surface to reach the dog.”
Van Ord used a hot dog hanging from the end of the catch post to entice the dog to put its head in the loop, which allowed another rescuer to close the loop so Van Ord could secure the dog.
Ulster County SPCA officials determined that the dog, although hungry and thirsty, was healthy and then reunited with its owner.
In the camera, the dog was seen licking the wet walls of the crevice, likely acquiring moisture that helped him survive, the SPCA said.
The state’s parks department said regulations require all visitors to keep their dogs on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
“This incident is a reminder that a single misstep, whether by an animal, a child or even an adult, near caves or cliffs can be fatal,” Dickey said.
Gina Carbonari, executive director of the Ulster County SPCA, described a remarkable scene of lifeguards coming together to help Liza.
“The joy on the surface of this news was just amazing and renewed everyone’s motivation to get this little dog to safety,” she said.
“Every person there has played a role in achieving this goal – an incredible team effort from multiple agencies.”
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