Cavers exploring in Virginia rescue ‘miracle’ dog found 40 to 50 feet down in cave

NARROWS, Va. — A very lucky dog ​​is recovering at an animal shelter. A group of cavers said their trip to a West Virginia cave last weekend turned into a rescue mission when they found her 40 to 50 feet underground.

Dave Jackson and Jesse Rochette of the Colorado-based educational caving simulator company CaveSim went to the Narrows in Giles County on Sunday to explore Giant Caverns with a local couple, Jackson said by phone Wednesday. The first member of their party descended into the funnel-shaped cave and saw something unusual: a dog.

“He said, ‘Wow! There’s a dog here!'” Rochette said. “And I asked if he was alive and he said, ‘Yes!'”

Rochette, who calls himself a “dog man,” then hit back with a piece of salami.

“She came right over and sucked the salami up and she loved it,” Rochette said. The dog was shivering, so they wrapped her in space blankets, foam pillows and anything else they could find, including the hood of an old coat they found in the cave, he said. They then gave her water by first having her lick water off his fingers and then lowering his hand until she drank from the bowl.

Jackson said he had previously undergone rescue training and participated in rescues, but had never been on a rescue involving an animal.

“We all have a little rescue kit with us,” Jackson said, and they bundled up what they had. The cavers improvised a dog harness from a tarp and a webbing strap and rigged up a system to get the dog out, which was tied to Rochette, he said.

The entire rescue operation took about three hours, Rochette said.

“When we both reached the edge of the well and got out into the fresh air, she perked up right away,” he said. “She lifted her head and started sniffing the air.”

The owner of the property said he did not recognize the dog. Rochette said they took her to a nearby veterinary clinic and then she was taken to the Giles County Animal Shelter. She was recovering well there and was given lots of treats when he visited her on Monday.

Although he had never rescued an animal from a cave, Rochette said other cavers he had spoken to had told him of other rescues. The cave they were in Sunday was littered with animal skulls and bones, Rochette said.

“It felt good that the cave wouldn’t have to hold another one,” he said.

Initially they called her “Cave Dog,” but later chose SPAR-C, an acronym for small party assisted rescue with a C for canine, Rochette said.

In a Facebook post Monday, the shelter called the dog “a living miracle,” saying they didn’t know what to expect when they first heard about her plight.

“Yesterday we received a call about a dog that had fallen into a cave in the Narrows,” the shelter said. “Honestly, we didn’t know what the next few hours or even minutes would hold.”

But the dog the shelter calls Sparsy had no broken bones. She couldn’t use her back legs properly without help, but they expected her to be back on her feet and moving within a few days with medication, rest and a good diet.

On Wednesday, the shelter posted an update saying she was back on her feet and her medical expenses had been covered. The shelter was still looking for her owner, but said if she continued to heal at this rate, she would soon be ready for a new home.