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Woman, Dog Rescued from Cliff After 4-Day Ordeal

Associated Press

June 14, 2010

WAIKATO, New Zealand – Custard the dog’s four day ordeal on a ledge above the Waikato River turned to custard for one of her would-be rescuers with firefighters called to haul both man – and later dog – to safety.

Richard Gould’s first attempt to retrieve neighbour Chele Clarkin’s five-year-old golden labrador from a ledge on a cliff above the Waikato River at Mystery Creek about 7.30pm on Saturday failed after he slipped down a bank. Rain and darkness set in and left him stranded.

Mr Gould said he kept slipping as he attempted to climb back up the bank, so had to wait about 45 minutes for the Cambridge Fire Brigade to come to his aid.

“Luckily I had my cell phone with me and was able to ring for help,” he told the Waikato Times today.

He wasn’t able to see Custard but could hear her.

Yesterday morning the firefighters went back and found Custard stuck on a ledge 20 metres down the cliff. She’d been there for four days.

Hamilton Fire Service’s advanced rope rescue team was called in to help, and a firefighter abseiled down the sheer 20-metre cliff to Custard’s ledge to bring her to safety about 11am.

“She’s feeling very, very sorry for herself, very tired and very hungry,” Ms Clarkinsaid.

“It’s a total mystery how she got down there,” she said.

“She’s not usually a very adventurous dog.”

Alan Doherty, a station officer with the advanced rope rescue team, said rescues like Custard’s weren’t as unusual as one might think, with pooches often geyying into trouble.

“It does happen. We probably do one or two rescues a year down riverbanks for dogs,” he said.

“Dogs are always nosing around by rivers when they are walking, and now and then they can slip.”

It was a busy weekend for Waikato fire services rescuing animals.

Te Awamutu firefighters were called to rescue a kitten that was stuck in an under-sink cupboard.