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An Impawsible Rescue: Explorers Find Dog Trapped Inside Cave For 2 Months.

spelunker Rick Haley rescues lost dog from MO cave

Jeff and Kathy Bohnert didn’t think they’d ever see their dog again.

Abby, a 13-year-old terrier mix, was their daughter Rachel’s childhood pet. On June 9th, they let Abby out along with their other dog, Summer. The dogs tore off away from their Perry County, Missouri home. A while later Summer returned, but Abby was missing.

“I knew something had happened to Abby because Summer won’t leave her,” Jeff explained. “So I knew that, probably, she wasn’t coming back.”

Fate had other plans for the tenacious terrier! Two months later, the Cave Research Foundation organized a group of 30 spelunkers to enter the Moore Cave system in Perry County. This system is 22 miles long, and it happens to be located just a quarter mile across a field from the Bohnert’s home.

Rick Haley was a member of the cave exploration group. As they moved through the steep, rocky system, some of the kids in the front of the pack made a bizarre discovery.

“One group discovered a dog in the cave,” Rick wrote on Facebook. “Gerry Keene and I facilitated a cave rescue of a dog. The dog was not in good shape. We package the dog in a duffel bag with her head sticking out. This was to protect her and the rescuers as she would likely struggle.”

Rick described the way out as “a very tight, awkward, vertical climb” up 500 feet to the cave’s small entrance. It took about an hour of working together to transport Abby to safety.

Experts say the dog likely survived by drinking water inside the cave and eating nothing but whatever fish and crustaceans she could scavage. Still, the fact that she stayed alive in “total darkness” for two months is downright incredible!

“Our initial reaction was disbelief,” said Gerry. “The kids in the group were in front and found the dog and then told the trip leader ‘Dad there’s a dog here.’ I have been involved in animal rescues from a cave before. Both previous times the owner contacted the cavers as they knew their animal had gone into the cave. This was very different in that we just came across her and no one knew she was there.”

Once Abby reached the surface, her rescuers still didn’t know how to get her home. They enlisted the help of Biehle Assistant Fire Chief Robert Cahhon to go door-to-door showing photos of Abby. Eventually, they knocked on the door of a neighbor who recognized the dog and knew where she lived.

Jeff and Kathy could not believe their eyes when Abby was returned to them!

“I can see the cave area from my house, it is about a quarter mile across the field,” said Jeff. “There are many sink holes in the area I live that lead into the cave system. She could have fallen into one of them when they where out exploring around.”

The happy owners couldn’t wait to FaceTime their now-adult daughter so she could see her old friend was safely back at home.

“Abby is my daughter’s childhood pet, she was super excited when I FaceTimed her and showed her Abby,” said Jeff. “She said ‘how can this be, how can she still be alive?'”

Aside from being painfully thin, Abby is still in good health! She is recovering from her traumatic ordeal at home, and her family is beyond grateful to the cavers who worked so hard to get her home. Well done, spelunkers!

Don’t forget to share this sweet homecoming story.

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