Rescued dog spent five days on a quarry ledge

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Correctional Police Officers Troy Keith and Frank Vanihel from the Putnamville Correctional Facility, risked life and limb to rappel down the side of an old limestone quarry to save a dog that had fallen onto a ledge 80 feet above the quarry's watery depths. The dog was on the ledge for five days before property owners Steve and Linda Raines were finally able to pinpoint his location and call for assistance.

GREENCASTLE -- For five days, Steve and Linda Raines searched their property southwest of Greencastle trying to find the location of a dog they could hear barking and feared might need help.

"My wife commented the first night we heard him, but we couldn't figure out where he was. He was right under our noses, but because his barks echoed and bounced over the quarry walls it was impossible to tell where it was coming from," said Steve.

"He didn't bark all the time, mostly in the morning and evening. When he did bark he sounded distressed," he added.

Raines drove up and down the road near the woods on his property in the evenings trying to locate the dog, but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the couple determined he had to be in the quarry.

"Finally, we took our canoe out on the pond and scoured the quarry walls. We could hear him, but still couldn't tell where the sound was coming from. My wife saw a bush move. I had a pair of binoculars and we were able to spot him," explained Raines.

The dog that Raines now calls "Cliff" or "Cliffette" was crouched on a ledge about 80 feet above them. He was black, medium-sized and barely fit on the crumbling ledge.

Once pinpointed, the Raines took immediate action by calling local law enforcement for help.

The response was immediate. Rescue personnel from Madison Township, Greencastle and Cloverdale fire departments, along with the Putnam County Sheriff's Animal Control Program arrived on the scene.

They determined that the only way to successfully rescue the dog was to rappel down the quarry, so they contacted Putnamville prison staff for assistance.

Correctional Peace Officers Troy Keith and Frank Vanihel didn't hesitate to volunteer their services.

"Once we arrived and assessed the situation, it was apparent that it wasn't going to be an easy task, but we had no idea that it was going to be as physically demanding as it was," said Keith.

Suspended by rope, Keith and Vanihel began the arduous descent down the treacherous, rocky wall to secure and lift the canine to safety.

According to Steve, the trail the dog must have taken down, and that the emergency personnel was on, ran out of ground several feet away from the ledge. He thought the dog had probably gone down the trail and fallen onto the ledge.

After the rescue Vanihel relayed the events of the day to fellow staff members, "The dog was literally on its 'last leg.' Even as we reached it, the ledge was starting to crumble. If the dog hadn't cooperated, we may not have been able to save it."

The dog was frightened, hungry and dehydrated, but surprisingly in good spirits, as its paws touched sound ground.

"We gave him a little water and some cat food because that was all we had on our property," said Steve. "He didn't eat and just drank a little. I'm sure he was traumatized after his adventure."

The dog was wearing a green and yellow "nothing runs like a Deere" collar. He was taken to the Putnam County Humane Shelter.

After the dog's successful rescue, Steve said he had a name for animal.

"I think his name should be Cliff or if it's a she maybe Cliffette," he joked.

The circle on the photo above shows where the dog was finally located on a crumbling ledge.

If he or she goes unclaimed, the dog will become the newest member of the Putnamville Correctional Facility's K-9 Unit.

"We were really pleased with the outcome of this rescue. It was a combined effort of everyone. The people involved did a tremendous job. The tenacity of the volunteers and professionalism that they exhibited was extraordinary. Thanks to everyone who came to help," Steve said.

"Keith and Vanihel not only represent the Department as Correctional Police Officers, but are also members of the Agency's Emergency Response Team where they received specialized training in rappelling and rescue techniques," said Putnamville superintendent Bruce Lemmon.

"They are the first CPOs to rappel in the line of duty. Their willingness to risk their safety to perform a hazardous and potentially life-threatening service to save the animal's life is commendable," Lemmon said. "It's an honor and very rewarding to work with staff of their caliber."

On Tuesday, the Banner Graphic learned the dog is still at the Putnam County Humane Shelter. She is a female and is in very good health. She is still wearing a green John Deere collar. She has been bathed and brushed and received her inoculations.

"She has been very well taken care of up to this point," said Lynelle Cullen with the shelter. "We've been surprised no one has come forward looking for her."

Cliffette is adoptable as of today. A number of people have called checking on her, including the Correctional Facility, who have offered to take her for their K-9 Unit.

"She's very friendly with our staff and well socialized. She's a beautiful dog," added Cullen.

Anyone interested in Cliffette can call the Humane Shelter at 653-5739. If Cliffette is not available, a number of other animals are still looking for forever homes.

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  • What a great story! I'm worried about who lost the dog, are they OK?

    -- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 4:48 AM
  • Poor dog, must have been terrified. As a human, I can't even imagine being stuck on a ledge with no way to get up or down for five days. Who knows how and why this dog got there. Not to assume its owners were irresponsible, but it makes one realize how important it is to make sure your dog(s) are secured, both inside and outside. It may have simply snuck out of the house.

    I take my dogs out to the Nature Park periodically for runs/walks and every time we get to the trail that runs along the top of the quarry ledge, the thought is always in the back of my mind: how easy it is for someone to fall off the ledge - you just have to be very careful. I see too many people around town, and even at the Nature Park, who walk their dogs without a leash - this is against pet ownership/leash laws. No matter how "trained" a dog is, there's no 100% guarantee Fido is going to stay by your side or come when called. So thank God this dog was saved! Hope it finds a good home!

    -- Posted by ttocs on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 8:07 AM
  • Hopefully the owner will claim this dog or someone will adopt her other than Putnamville Correctional Facility. If they plan on using her for an aggression dog that would be heart breaking since she seems to be so friendly and socialized.

    -- Posted by cloverdaleresident on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 9:02 AM
  • To the comment made from cloverdaleresident. You took a hero of a story from two correction officers who risked their lives for a dog and turned it into nothing. Why would you automatically think that they would train the dog for aggression. I think the dog would have a great home at the prison with better caretakers than the ones who had him before. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Who knows the dog may make a great narcotics dog. Don't judge. We are not judging you.

    -- Posted by usmccowgirl on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 11:02 AM
  • To usmccowgirl I do commend the officers for taking their time and risking personal injury for the dog. I am the former owner of a dog that was property of the PCF. This particular dog was about to be put to sleep because she was not aggressive enough for the prison. Fortunately for her we were able to take her in and she was able to live a life of leisure until she passed away many years later. You are judging the owner of the dog not knowing anything about them. Maybe the dog was lost and they were making every effort to find it.

    -- Posted by cloverdaleresident on Tue, Apr 27, 2010, at 2:29 PM
  • As the Aunt of Frank, I want to say how proud I am of him and his coworker. I am surprised that little is said bythe bloggers about their willingness to sacrifice their lives and offer the dog an alternative to death not only from the ledge.but life off of the ledge. I recommend that if the bloggers don't feel the dog should have the opportunity to work as a K-9 then adopt the dog. I have had dogs all of my life. Never have we allowed them to run loose but they can "escape!".it happens to the most loving owners. I hope this dog is with someone who loves it and I am thankful that my nephew and his friend have the compassion for animals in need of being saved. Awesome job guys :-)

    -- Posted by animalsknowbest on Sun, May 23, 2010, at 12:51 PM
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