AWHF Helps Rescue Trapped Dog

On April 17, 1999 at least eight people were involved in the rescue of a lost dog.

Randy Sawyer of Cherokee had been hunting for boar when he found the dog in a cave-in which was about 100 feet across by 20 feet deep in the forest and bush near Rolling Harbour, Abaco. There was water in the pit so the dog was not dehydrated but despite its frantic efforts the dog could not get out. Sawyer could not approach the dog which had passed the point of panic and simply could not respond to him with more than growls and more terrified attempts to escape.

Randy called his sister Ellen Sawyer, who in turn started to contact members of AARF (formerly AARK) to see about a rescue operation. As so often happens here in Abaco, the right people happened to be in the right place at the right time. Although Dr. Robert Allen of Caribbean Veterinary Health and Healing Centre could not go on the rescue mission he provided tranquilization chemicals to Mimi Rehor of the Abaco Wild Horse Fund. Rehor has had experience with remote tranquilization systems.

Randy and his wife Veronica drove up from Cherokee to Marsh Harbour to pick up Rehor. A length of rope was secured from yet another concerned person. A large cage was loaded into the pick up truck.

About a thirty mile drive got the team to the approximate area of the cave-in. After a ten minute hike through the bush, the cave-in couldn’t be found. Randy had taken what he felt would be an easier route in and with the sun heading for the west the light was different. Yelling and calling brought no response. The team turned to go back to the truck, planning to bring in a larger group of people the next day to comb the area.

Suddenly, two brief barks were heard, a bearing was established and the dog was found. Actually, the cave-in was more like a shallow blue hole, with the water rising and receding with the tide. Trees living and dead covered the bottom of the pit, the walls were straight down with limestone ledges and caves led away from the ledges. The dog was still making frantic circles. Rehor used the rope to descend into the hole. (Later, climbing out was much easier). Within about half an hour the dog was sufficiently tranquilized for Rehor to creep onto the ledge where he had taken refuge as the drug took over. She was able to rig the rope into a harness and then Randy pulled the dead weight of the dog, about 50 lbs., out and over the lip of the cave-in.

The dog was not out cold which made it impossible to carry him for any distance. Between Randy and Veronica and Rehor the dog was urged, cajoled, hoisted, hefted and pushed back to the road. The bush was not extremely dense, but the ground was full of pits. Banyan trees‘ roots just disappeared into large black holes. The feeling of marching over the top of a not very stable sponge filled with big gaps, invisible but right under foot, was unsettling at best.

Randy and Veronica then drove Rehor all the way back to Marsh Harbour before returning to their home in Cherokee. Kenny and Annette Long of Long’s Landing generously offered to keep the dog in their fenced in yard until his owner could be found. Marsh Harbour still does not have a shelter where rescued animals can be kept safe and comfortable until their owners can be located. Arrangements were made to get information about the dog to Radio Abaco.The dog’s owner Isaacs was found on the following Monday.


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