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Cavers Discover Missing Dog

Abby had vanished 2 months before
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2022 11:10 AM CDT
Rescuers Save Missing Dog 500 Feet Into Missouri Cave
Ball Mill Cave in Perry County, Mo.   (Getty/Darlene Spell)

A group exploring a cave in southeastern Missouri made an unexpected find about 500 feet below the surface: a dog, appearing lethargic, sitting on a mud floor. "She didn't look real good," Gerry Keene said. "I mean, she had 11 people walk by her with lights and she just basically lifted her head, but she wouldn't move at all." He started going to nearby houses to try to find the dog's owner, NPR reports. Keene had no luck, but word spread, and a man came to the entrance of the cave near Perryville and identified a photo. The dog in need of rescuing was Abby, he said, who had been missing for two months. He wasn't expecting to see his pet again.

Help was recruited, and a rescue began. The equipment available wasn't designed for dogs, so the team used a duffel bag and blanket. The descent wasn't easy. "It's vertical in places. It's windy," said Rick Haley, an experienced caver who pitched in. "It's very tight." When they reached the dog, the rescuers checked her for injuries. She was malnourished and didn't react much to the arrivals. "It was evident she had been there a long time," Haley said, in a tough environment he described as wet and about 58 degrees. They thought Abby might give them a struggle on the way up, but Haley said she was "totally cooperative," per NBC News.

Abby showed no interest in walking, so they set out the duffel bag, and she climbed in. "We moved her 500 feet to a very tight, awkward, vertical climb, handing her hand to hand upward to the surface," Haley said. The entire rescue took about 90 minutes, he said. That was Aug. 6, and Haley said the family told him Abby is recuperating but still weak. No one knows how the dog got into that spot, though one guess is she was swept in by floodwater. "She was happy to be out!" Haley posted online. (More caves stories.)

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