Friday 31 October 2014

Dog-tired but delighted - beloved beagle in rescue drama three days after plunging off side of cliff

Published 14/01/2014 | 02:30

Pat O'Driscoll of Valentia Coastguard pictured moments after he rescued Shandon at Fogher Cliffs on Valentia Island after the dog was rescued by the coastguard having spent three days trapped on the cliffs on Monday.
Picture by Don MacMonagle
Pat O'Driscoll of Valentia Coastguard pictured moments after he rescued Shandon. Photo: Don MacMonagle

He was the dog that simply had to be found.

His distraught owner David O'Connor (69) waited anxiously on the side of the cliff where he could hear his beloved pet -- but couldn't see him.

Back home his grandchildren, Emma (9), Kevin (7) and Aidan (5), waited for news.

Shandon, the two-and-a-half-year-old beagle, had belonged to Mr O'Connor's son, Dan (36).

The children's father passed away in August from cancer just two weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.

The dog had fallen off the side of a cliff where he remained for almost three days -- cold, hungry and afraid.

Shandon had run off while out walking with Mr O'Connor on the Fogher Cliffs in Valentia Island in Co Kerry on Saturday.

"I was very worried about him of course but even more worried someone else would fall off the cliff looking for him," Mr O'Connor said.

Shandon was found in a crevice on the cliff face, approximately 150 metres down. The pair had regularly gone for a stroll on the popular cliff walk.

He was rescued by seven volunteers from the Knightstown Coastguard Unit, who had been contacted by Suzanne Gibbons from the Animal Heaven Animal Rescue (AHAR) charity.

Ms Gibbons had been alerted by Mr O'Connor's friend and neighbour in Ballymanagh, Bobby Burton, who also waited on the side of the cliff on Gheogean Mountain on the picturesque south-Kerry island.

Ms Gibbons had threatened to scale the cliff face herself to rescue the dog because she was told the coastguard could only come to the rescue of people.

Knightstown Coastguard volunteer Anthony O'Sullivan managed to climb down and enter the crevice and was able to hand the dog out to fellow volunteer Pat O'Driscoll.

The RNLI Lifeboat provided assistance from the sea.

"He was obviously very frightened. We could hear him screeching but then as we got closer he'd go silent," Mr O'Sullivan explained.

Members of the team had spent the last two days searching for the dog and were determined to reunite him with his owner.

"We've taken part in many searches for people but this was the first one for a dog," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Shandon didn't seem any worse for wear after his ordeal.

Irish Independent

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