Climbers rescue dog trapped for weeks in old mine shaft near Fairplay
Editor's Note: We're so glad the pup is okay! Remember, however, it's never a good idea to go into Colorado's old mines. They can be very dangerous! (More on that from the experts later)
FAIRPLAY - A group of hikers in Park County saved a dog's life after hearing anguished barks coming from an abandoned mine shaft.
Preston Gladd was hiking last week near Beaver Creek in Park County when he heard some growling or whining coming from a tiny entrance to an old mine.
He assumed it was a wild animal and left it alone, especially since he was with his own dogs at the time and wanted to keep them safe.
But, Preston thought about it some more. After a week of contemplation, he decided to go back.
On his second trip, he heard distinct barking and realized it was a dog. Preston ran home to get his climbing buddy, Gannon, and his girlfriend, Portia, to help.
We'll pause here to remind readers it's never a safe idea to explore or go inside abandoned mine shafts in Colorado.
Jeff Graves, the Program Director with the Inactive Mine Reclamation Program at the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) says there are a number of concerns with old mines, including unseen hazards, unstable timbers and poor air quality.
The Colorado DRMS helps seal up dangerous old mines. Graves said by phone Friday the organization would look into this particular mine near Fairplay to see if it can be closed to protect future hikers and animals from becoming trapped.
Typically, if you come across a trapped dog in a mine shaft, it's a good idea to call first responders first, who can then dispatch the proper mining rescue crews.
They generally will respond, even for trapped pets, with the knowledge that if they don't, there's a good chance the people will try to rescue the animal themselves.
"It's more preventative," Graves said.
Back to the rescue.
Preston and Gannon came back with Portia, and, using their climbing equipment, harnessed in and rappelled into the shaft about 20 feet down.
At the bottom was the dog - skinny and scared. They would later learn her name is Cheyenne.
The friends took Cheyenne to a local vet and discovered she wasn't micro chipped. She had a collar on, but had no tag or phone number listed to call.
Thanks to a public post on her Facebook page, Portia was able to get in touch with Cheyenne's family after hundreds of comments from the community.
Many people posted a 'lost dog' post from the South Park Bulletin from Oct. 6, and sure enough, it was Cheyenne!
While they waited for the owner to coordinate getting her back, the friends took Cheyenne home, and with advice from a veterinarian, got her fed, washed, and hydrated.
Not even a full day later, on Thursday, the owner had been contacted via Facebook, and a friend of his from the Fairplay area was working to bring Cheyenne back to her family near Denver.
We love a happy ending!
And we love keeping Coloradans safe: so we'll say it again. Many potential hazards in old mines can't be seen by the naked eye.
"People make assumptions that it's less hazardous than it really is," Graves said.