Monday, February 28, 2011

Pit bull saved after 400 foot tumble into Letchworth gorge

By Mark Gillespie, The Livingston County News

A Letchworth State Park “high angle” rope rescue crew brought a stranded pit bull terrier up from the bottom of the Genesee River gorge Sunday after the dog fell approximately 400 feet over a cliff at the High Banks Recreation Area near Mount Morris.
According to Major David Page of the New York State Park Police, Jessica Rollison, 18, of Henrietta was walking with her dog Xena Saturday afternoon when the animal tumbled over the edge after reportedly chasing a deer.
Police were able to see the dog from the recreation area, but fading daylight, cold and icy conditions led rescuers to delay their efforts until Sunday morning. “If it had been a person, we would have given that person immediate attention,” explained Major Page. “However, it’s a balancing act with animals. You have to recognize the owner’s concern with the animal and also address the practicalities of not putting rescuers at extreme risk for a dog.”
“We had some tough decisions to make, but fortunately we had a good result.”
The rope team reconvened at 6 a.m. and lowered officer Mike Anderson to the bottom of the gorge. He worked his way past the ice-encrusted shale of the cliff face, always wary of the danger of falling snow and debris. At the bottom, Anderson was able to secure Xena in a special rescue harness made for dogs and bring her back to the top.
The dog had suffered some visible injuries, but was in good spirits once reunited with its owner, said Major Page.
Page estimates that the New York State Park Police rescues two or three dogs a year. He reminds patrons that all pets must be kept on a leash at all times inside the park.

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