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Humane Society team rescues dog after 150-fall

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sandy with rescuer John Thoeni a volunteer with the Oregon Humane Society.

David Schelske was on a Christmas afternoon hike in the Columbia Gorge with his dog, Sandy, when something startled the animal.

Sandy, a 3-year-old yellow lab, bolted. Her leash snapped. Schelske, a West Linn resident, saw her dash around a corner on the trial, but found no sign of her until he hiked to the bottom of the cliff and spotted her stranded on an isolated ledge, seemingly unreachable.

“It never occurred to me that I would see her alive again,” Schelske said in a press release.

But a crew of eight volunteers with the Oregon Humane Society’s animal rescue team were undaunted. Volunteer John Thoeni rappelled 150 feet down a sheer cliff to locate the dog, who miraculously had suffered only minor injuries.  The dog was trapped on a tiny, inaccessible ledge about 70 feet above a creek.

The ledge was too small for Thoeni to climb onto, so he fitted a harness on Sandy and the two were hoisted to safety by the other members of the team. Schelske and Sandy were soon reunited.

“What happened was incredibly bad luck,” Schelske said. “But then we had incredibly good luck when she was saved.”

As for the rescue team: “(It) is an amazing, dedicated group of people. I wish I could give them all a big hug.” 

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