Rats.co.nzSpecialist First Response Team to the Canterbury Region

News

Rakaia Puppy Rescue

5/08/07

On Friday we had a call from the SPCA regarding a report of 2 puppies being sighted stuck down a cliff in the Rakaia Gorge.

Previously on Thursday a member of the public had found a lone puppy at the top of the cliff at a viewing point to the Rakaia Gorge, this pup was taken away and delivered to the Waimak animal control officer. On Friday the same person was travelling back through the gorge and decided to have another look in case there were any more pups to be found, on looking down the cliff face he noticed a further 2 pups stuck about 10m down. Unable to get down to them he contacted Bryce Alexander, the Selwyn animal control officer, with the details. Bryce was already busy on another job so contacted the SPCA for assistance who in turn contacted the Rats. The SPCA has in the past asked the Rats for assistance with a couple of other cliff based rescues of animals.
Cliff from top looking down to pups
Cliff from top looking down to pups

Due to the distance from Christchurch and somewhat sketchy details given it was decided that the Westwood's who live in Darfield may be able to do an initial assessment of the scene to see what was required. Both were on duty with ambulance at the time so a crew change for one was required. It was agreed that if we found it to be a fairly straight forward rescue a second person would be needed to assist so we enlisted the help of Ross Meder. Ross is also involved with the Darfield ambulance but is also a member of Oxford SAR, he graciously dropped everything to help.
On arrival at the gorge the puppies were spotted very easily down the cliff, both were whimpering but their tails still had a wag in them, it was initially thought their mother had been dumped with them as we could see a half eaten carcass beside them but fortunately this was not the case.  The cliff was a vertical drop and was comprised of soft clay with fairly large stones jutting out of it, we concluded that it was not particularly safe for an abseil so looked at other ways to get down. Both sides of the valley had vertical ridges which turned into steep hills towards the ends of them. We chose the opposite ridge, it was a longer way round but we could see that is was accessible. It turned out that is was still quite steep and the ground was quite loose under foot so was slow going but eventually made it down into the basin and back up the other side.
Ross with pups where found
Ross with pups where found
The pups were very happy to be found so not a problem to catch although not overly happy about being stuffed into a bag so we could get them back up the hill. They were approx 6 weeks old huntaway type pups and the carcass we had seen from the top was actually a wallaby that had been dumped there. The pups did not appear to be too distressed or dehydrated but it is still unknown how long they had actually been there. We decided to try another way out as anything else must be easier than the way we chose to get there which turned out to be a good decision - time to get to puppies about 30mins, time to get back out 15mins. Thankfully for Ross on the way back up I was too out of breath to complain too much about walking up hills! 


Jude and pups back up top
Jude and pups back up top
Both pups were brought back to Darfield where Bryce collected them and delivered them to Bunny Lodge. Due to their "quite cute" factor he didn't think there would be too many problems rehoming them.
Ross and pups back up the top
Ross and pups back up the top

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Updated Wednesday, 22 December 2010