Dog in Big Hole rescue drama
Mission to attempt new approaches today
HE IS known simply as the Dog in the Big Hole and his story is gripping the nation – the dog that somehow fell down the Big Hole in Kimberley and survived the 170m fall, and is now the subject of frantic rescue efforts.
Visitors to the Big Hole in Kimberley were the first to notice the dog swimming in the water at the bottom of the world famous tourist attraction on Thursday morning, although some people believe he may have been trapped there for even longer.
Some initially thought it was a meerkat but it soon became apparent that it was a Labrador. Some have taken to calling him the Under Dog.
Officials from De Beers, which owns the Big Hole, said that while they were not certain how the dog had got through the perimeter fencing, it may have somehow scraped through a gap in the wire.
“It is amazing that the dog survived such a steep fall. We are all hoping for a happy ending,” one official said.
A rescue mission was launched by the police provincial search and rescue unit, ER24, the Sol Plaatje Emergency Services fire brigade, the SPCA and De Beers officials yesterday, but their attempts were futile.
The mission was aborted at 6pm as it was considered too dangerous for the rescue team to continue, but was set to resume early this morning.
Attempts were made to save the Labrador from three different sections of the Big Hole but rescuers found the ground too unstable for the use of anchors.
ER24 Northern Cape operations manager Albert Hensberg said ropes measuring 400m in length were used in several abseiling attempts.
“The rocks were very sharp, while the ground was extremely unstable and loose and could easily result in injury due to slipping,” Hensberg said. “We could not risk losing another life in the process.”
By late afternoon, it was decided that the only way to rescue the dog was by a helicopter and singer, Kurt Darren tweeted that he was prepared to pay for the costs of the helicopter.
However, it was decided that wind would interfere with the stability of a helicopter at low flying levels and would endanger the lives of the pilot and crew members.
Dirk Coetzee, manager of the Big Hole, said that fortunately there is a little ledge near the water so the dog has not been swimming the whole time.
But he could not see any way that rescuers would be able to get down the sheer cliff face.
“It’s too dangerous to get down and even more dangerous to come back up with the dog,” he said.
“We will have to try to come up with alternative measures.”
Coetzee said that parts of the cliffs had broken up as rescuers attempted to abseil down.
“We don't even know how it got there,” Coetzee said.
“I have no idea who belongs to.”
SPCA inspector Mario van der Westhuizen said that a dog was able to survive for about a week without food as it was able to drink the water.
“However, the dog has been swimming in the water for a long time.”
DOGGY PADDLE: The labrador has been seen swimming the perimeter of Kimberley’s Big Hole.
RESCUE ATTEMPT: Police officer John Seeley is lowered down the open mine in an attempt to rescue the dog.