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Cave rescue team saves 12-year-old cockapoo from narrow crevice at upstate NY park

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A 12-year-old cockapoo was rescued on Tuesday after it fell down a narrow, rocky crevice at an upstate New York park five days before.

The dog named Liza was on a walk with her female owner, who has not been named,  last Thursday at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve when she fell into the deep crevice.

The helpless pooch remained there for five days without food or water as park officials made several unsuccessful attempts to rescue her, as they struggled to reach the frightened pet in the tight crevice.  

When they sent a camera in, they found the dog so thirsty she was licking the wet walls of the rockface.  

A 12-year-old cockapoo named Liza was rescued from a narrow, rocky crevice on Tuesday at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in upstate New York

A 12-year-old cockapoo named Liza was rescued from a narrow, rocky crevice on Tuesday at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in upstate New York

New Jersey Initial Response team member Jessica Van Ord slipped through the skinny crevice to retrieve Liza

New Jersey Initial Response team member Jessica Van Ord slipped through the skinny crevice to retrieve Liza

Liza had been trapped in the crevice since last Thursday after she had slipped into it while on a walk with her owner. Camera footage found Liza licking the wet walls as she had no source of food or water

Liza had been trapped in the crevice since last Thursday after she had slipped into it while on a walk with her owner. Camera footage found Liza licking the wet walls as she had no source of food or water

On Tuesday, five days after Liza slipped into the narrow cave, the New Jersey Initial Response team were able to lower their smallest team member, Jessica Van Ord, into the crevice.

She described the difficulty of navigating the cramped rockways.

‘Luckily, I could still stand, albeit sideways, and I could turn my head if I needed to by fiddling with my helmet,’ she said.

After multiple squeezes down the crevice, Van Ord spotted the dog who was still alive and breathing. 

Van Ord, the smallest member of the cave rescue team, shimmied into the crevice which she described as a 'a crack that only a 5 year old could fit through'

Van Ord, the smallest member of the cave rescue team, shimmied into the crevice which she described as a ‘a crack that only a 5 year old could fit through’

Van Ord said it took her multiple squeezes until she found the dog at the bottom of the deep, thin crevice

Van Ord said it took her multiple squeezes until she found the dog at the bottom of the deep, thin crevice 

Van Ord said she had to continuously adjust her position and safety helmet which she made her way through

Van Ord said she had to continuously adjust her position and safety helmet which she made her way through

Liza stayed just out of reach of Van Ord who decided to try and entice the animal towards her with a hot dog on a pole.

Eventually the dog was lassoed and brought to safety. 

‘Finally lassoing the dog, we pulled her up and I breathed a sigh of relief as I grabbed her furry little body. ‘I got the dog!’ I yelled, and heard cheers above,’ she said.

The dog, now safe and sound, was then finally reunited with its owner at around 5pm on Tuesday.

Fellow NJRIT volunteer lowered a lasso pole with a hot dog at the end to catch Liza

Fellow NJRIT volunteer lowered a lasso pole with a hot dog at the end to catch Liza

‘This was a tight vertical fissure leading to an even tighter horizontal crack,’ Mark Dickey, the chief of the cave rescue team said, according to a news release.

‘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.’

Joshua Laird, the executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director, commended the work of the NJIRT and reminded visitors to keep their dogs on a leash. 

‘We are thrilled that it was possible to reunite Liza with its owner,’ Laird 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.

‘We are grateful for the perseverance of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve staff, the New Jersey Initial Response Team, the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Kerhonkson Accord First Aid Squad and Accord Fire Department for their efforts that brought this ‘tail’ to a happy conclusion.’

Despite the difficult conditions, Liza was retrieved and later returned to her owner

Despite the difficult conditions, Liza was retrieved and later returned to her owner

Gina Carbonari, Executive Director of the Ulster County SPCA, also commended Van Ord’s work.

‘It’s always heartwarming to not only have such a positive outcome in cases like this, but also to see so many people come together, putting themselves at risk, to save an animal’s life,’ she said.

‘We were all concerned the dog had not survived until Jessica was able to get closer and hear movement. 

‘The rejoicing on the surface to that news was just incredible and renewed everyone’s motivation to get this little dog to safety. 

‘Every person there played a role in making this happen – an amazing team effort by multiple agencies.’



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