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Cavers helped rescue a dog trapped 500 feet underground for two months

After an hour-long rescue mission, caving enthusiasts Rick Haley and Gerry Keene saved 13-year-old Abby.

Cavers helped rescue a dog trapped 500 feet underground for two months
Image Source: LorenzoTheCat / Twitter

Rick Haley, a teacher and recreational caver based in Missouri, set out to help map a cave on August 6. At the time, he did not know he would end up becoming part of a rescue mission to save Abby, a 13-year-old dog who had been lost for two months. Thankfully, the caver was trained in specialized cave rescue. Along with his fellow caver Gerry Keene, he descended inside Missouri’s second-largest cave, Berome Moore, and rescued the senior dog. While she did not have any injuries, she was deeply malnourished and hesitant to walk. She has since been reunited with her owner, who was immensely grateful, CNN reports.


Initially, Haley was mapping a cave north of Perryville, Missouri, as part of a project for the Cave Research Foundation. The cave is part of the Berome Moore cave system, measuring approximately 22 miles. The 66-year-old caver was involved in logistics and managing problems on the expedition. At one point, he exited the cave to find another caver and an assistant fire chief from the local fire department. The fire chief told Haley, "Glad you are here. You can help us do a dog cave rescue." A group of parents and children visiting the cave for the day had encountered a dog deep in the cave and thus flagged him down for help.


Haley and Keene crawled and squeezed through tight passageways to get to the dog. When they found her, she was in poor shape. "She did not seem to have any injuries," he said. "But boy, she was really malnourished. She was skin and bones. She had mud on her." She was also "lethargic" and hesitant to walk. So the caver placed a blanket in a duffel bag near her and she stepped in, allowing them to carefully maneuver her out of the cave. The rescue mission took more than an hour. Although he has not been trained in dog rescue specifically, he applied many of the same principles that one would use for a person, such as keeping them warm and dry and being careful of any injuries.


Once she was out of the cave, "her spirits perked up a bit," according to Haley. One of the members of the caving team canvassed the neighborhood with a picture of the dog and they were able to find her owner, who "was astonished to see the dog." The owner revealed that the dog was 13 years old and named Abby. She had been missing since June 9, meaning she could have been trapped in the cave for almost two months. It is not clear how she ended up in the cave, but Haley assumed she likely chased an animal like a mouse or raccoon. He added that flooding in the cave caused by heavy rains may have brought her deeper into the cave system. He said it was "a good feeling" to have participated in the rescue. "I happened to be one of the only people on the surface at the time that the rescue needed to happen," the caver shared. "[But] if there had been all 30 of those cavers there, you would have found 30 people facilitating this rescue."


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