Dog Cliff Rescue
reported by Rick Weber
Sasha, a beautiful 90-pound husky, slipped while hiking with her owner, Joy Leonard, in the Red River Gorge and fell over a sheer cliff to a narrow ledge 50 feet below. The distraught owner contacted the Forest Service Law Enforcement who contacted the WCSART.
The team arrived on scene near Pinch-em-tight in the Red River Gorge and assessed the situation.
Jessie Phillips rappelled down and found the dog alive, but injured, lying on a narrow ledge. The ledge dropped off another 100 feet or so. Sasha was, indeed, lucky she had not rolled off the ledge. Jessie phoned a vet who asked him to squeeze one of the dogs back paws to see if he could get a response. He did and Sasha responded. John May, one of the Team’s Wilderness First Responders, then rappelled down to assist Jesse in treating the dog and packaging her for a litter raise.
The dog’s owner requested that a vet be called in. Dr. Fugate from West Liberty was called and arrived on scene sometime around 14:30. He provided a sedative to Jessie and John to administer to Sasha, which knocked her out so she could be packaged into a litter. John ascended along with the litter as the team raised her up the cliff face. Tom Yeager and Nate Lair, who had been called in with Donnie ___ from the Lee County SAR team as backup, set up and managed the raise system atop the cliff.
Sasha was rushed off to the Vet who later reported that, amazingly, she suffered no broken bones or other serious internal injuries. She never growled or threatened the rescuers and, in fact, was one of the best patients we’ve ever had to rescue.
Letters from Joy
I’m finally home, sitting on the couch watching my poor battered dog sleep. I still can’t thank you all enough for what you did. It was a miracle that she survived the fall, but it was your dedication and good will that brought her back to me. I will certainly send you a picture, and when Sasha is feeling better, I would love to come back out there and get a picture if her with you guys if it can be arranged. Sasha means the world to me and without your team I would have lost her. You will always be hero’s to us and everyone you help.
I wanted to let you and the team know that Sasha has made a full recovery and is doing very well. She was very sore for a couple of days, but by Thursday night she was begging to go for walks and on Saturday we made our usual trip down to the farmers market. I can’t help but smile whenever I see her acting like nothing happened! All of my friends thought is was an amazing story and they all send their thanks. Many of them spend time hiking and camping in the Gorge and said it is a comfort to know that you guys are ready to help.
I have attached a photo of Sasha that I took on a recent trip to Michigan. I tried to take some pictures at the farm on Sunday, but I wasn’t quick enough. Sasha and her friend made a beeline for the creek and spent the evening playing in the mud. It’s her favorite hobby, next to cliff diving of course.
I’m still hoping to get back out there sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted and hopefully you guys will be available for a picnic and photo op. I would really like to see everyone and thank you all again.
Joy and Sasha