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Dog rescued five days after falling into rock crevice

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 2:29 PM CDT
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ULSTER COUNTY, N.Y. (Gray News) - A dog has been reunited with her family after she was trapped in a rock crevice at a New York state park for five days.

The incident began on Oct. 7, when 12-year-old Liza fell out of sight while on a hike with her owner at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, according to a press release to the New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department.

The department reported she had fallen into a narrow crevice and while she couldn’t be seen, she could still be heard barking.

Park staff worked into the night trying to reach her but were unsuccessful. The following days, they continued futile attempts get a camera down and check on Eliza’s condition.

The local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the New Jersey Initial Response team joined the efforts on Oct. 12. They were able to get a specialized plumbing camera down near Liza to check on her condition and discovered she was alive and unharmed.

The next step was for a member of the rescue team to make their to where Liza was, equipped with a modified, extended catchpole. Due to the nature of the crevice, only the smallest person of the team could do the job.

Jessica Van Ord, a member of the New Jersey Initial Rescue Team, shimmies her way down a rock...
Jessica Van Ord, a member of the New Jersey Initial Rescue Team, shimmies her way down a rock crevice, where a 12-year-old dog named Liza had been trapped for five days.(New York Parks, Recreations and Historical Preservation Department)

“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,” Mark Dickey, the chief of the New Jersey Initial Response Team, said in the press release.

Van Ord used a hot dog to lure Liza through the loop of the catch pole. Another rescuer tightened the fastener around her and pulled her to Van Ord, who then brought her safely back to the surface.

“We were all concerned the dog had not survived until Jessica was able to get closer and hear movement,” Gina Carbonari, the executive director of the Ulster County SPCA, said. “The rejoicing on the surface to that news was just incredible and renewed everyone’s motivation to get this little dog to safety.”

The SPCA gave Eliza a checkup and determined that, aside from being hungry and thirsty, she was in good health.

Trapped without food or water, Liza had been observed through the camera licking moisture from the damp walls of the crevice to sustain herself.

A specialized plumbing camera observes 12-year-old Liza in the rock crevice she fell in on Oct....
A specialized plumbing camera observes 12-year-old Liza in the rock crevice she fell in on Oct. 7. She survived five days without food and water by licking the moisture from the walls to sustain herself.(New York Parks, Recreations and Historical Preservation Department)

After her checkup, Eliza was finally reunited with her owners.

In their press release, the New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department reminded visitors that all animals must be leashed while in their parks. They also stressed the importance leash regulations are for the safety of visiting pets, local wildlife and the environmental preservation efforts.

“We are thrilled that it was possible to reunite Liza with its owner,” Joshua Laird, executive director for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, said. “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.”

Several other agencies, including the New York State Police and forest rangers, were on scene to help with the efforts.

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