Rescuer abseils down mountain in darkness to save trapped dog
A mountain rescue team had to abseil 300 feet down a rock face in pitch darkness to rescue a dog called Toby, who had become trapped on a dangerous ledge.
The Donegal Mountain Rescue Team responded to the emergency call from a distressed English family who were climbing Donegal's second highest mountain, Muckish, on Wednesday evening when their pet beagle ran down a gully and became stranded on a ledge.
The incident occurred at a place known as "the great gully" on the Miners' Track, which is the quickest but most dangerous route up the popular mountain.
The route, which has become popular with tourists, has suffered in recent years from erosion and is becoming increasingly dangerous, according to experts.
By the time the rescue team had reached the top of the mountain, darkness was approaching.
With team member Seamus Bradley remaining at the top of the 666-metre mountain, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain abseiled down to the ledge in darkness to the terrified dog.
"I had to spend a little time comforting Toby that I wasn't the bad man from the vet but fortunately he was the correct temperment," explained Phil.
"He was a very steady dog. He let me put a lead on him and put him in a makeshift climbing harness and he and I climbed up the 300 feet of rock in total darkness," he said.
Yesterday, team leader Norman Miller warned of the perils of bringing a family pet up a mountain, particularly without a lead. "This could have been a much more serious situation, the worst thing being if the dog's owner had decided to go after him," he said.
While rescuing dogs remains a rare experience, the rescue team has a long history of saving sheep. He reported a rise in distress calls this year, compounded by a dire shortage of funds for equipment.
He said: We have already spent ?7,000 and we expect to spend another ?5,000 by Christmas on equipment. However, the group receives just ?3,000 from its parent mountain rescue body.