Lost dog has miracle survival tale
If Benny the beagle could talk he would have a great story to tell; it could even make a great movie.
On Sunday evening, he was miraculously found alive having spent nine days stuck above a waterfall in rugged terrain in the Belmont Regional Park, north of Wellington.
After going missing during a pack walk on April 6, Benny survived without any food and endured a freezing storm that brought snow and tornados to parts of the lower North Island last week.
Despite only being a few hundred metres from where he went missing, he somehow escaped the attention of 1000 searchers and a helicopter with specialist thermal imaging gear.
Owners Matt and Grace Newman-Hall set up a social media page to keep people informed on how the search was going.
Matt Newman-Hall said Benny was in surprisingly good shape. A timid dog, he did not even bark when rescuers eventually found him cold and hungry.
Buoyed by stories of dogs being lost for months and turning up unexpectedly, Newman-Hall said he had never given up hope.
‘‘There were 70 to 100 people out looking for him [on Sunday] so we were feeling very confident that someone would find him, and it was only half an hour after we got home that we got the call.’’
But even after he was discovered, the adventure was not over for Benny.
His rescuers had to scale a waterfall and rock wall to follow a stream. They found Benny attached to a log by his lead. In fading light, they sent out a message that they might struggle to get down.
Matt Newman-Hall alerted the park ranger and the SPCA animal rescue team, but after three hours his rescuers emerged with Benny happily trotting alongside them.
Benny was taken to the emergency vet, who said he had lost weight but was otherwise in good shape.
Grace Newman-Hall said she was indebted to the people who found him.
‘‘We can’t express how thankful we are.’’
After they got home and had some cuddles, Benny then enjoyed a long sleep. He spent the night snuggled up between his happy owners.
The Newman-Halls were advised to keep him quiet for a few days and slowly reintroduce him to food.
Matt Newman-Hall estimated that in the nine days Benny was missing, 1000 people had helped with the search.
‘‘The search has been expensive and extensive.’’
The helicopter was paid for by insurance and he said they would forever be grateful for all the help they received. One of the searchers came down from Whanganui and spent nine days searching the rugged park.
Wairarapa beagle breeder Chelsea Macklin said Benny did well to survive in the cold. Having access to a stream was probably the key to his survival.
‘‘Beagles are small dogs but they are quite a tough dog. They are pretty resilient and can cope with a lot.’’
Matt and Grace Newman-Hall launched an extensive search of the Belmont Regional Park for Benny the beagle, centre.