Dog rescued from cliffs in Valentia

Pet beagle Shandon with one of the rescuers.
Pet beagle Shandon with one of the rescuers.

Kevin Hughes

SOCIAL media certainly played a helping hand in Valentia on Monday as an extensive search and rescue operation eventually resulted in a much loved dog being returned to its owner.

Pet beagle Shandon had gone missing from the Fogher Cliffs area on Saturday and while owner David O'Connor (69) could hear the dog from the cliffs below, expert rescuers had to be called in to find the animal.

The dog had previously belonged to David's son Dan who died in August and so there was no shortage of volunteers on hand to help out

Yet it was a plea on Facebook by Animal Heaven Animal Rescue (AHAR) that eventually resulted in a full scale call-out from Valentia Coastguard, as AHAR founder Suzanne Gibbons explains.

"The call was raised by David's friend, Bobby Burton, and we put the message up for help on Facebook on Monday.

"I was quite prepared to climb down the cliffs myself but it was Sean Moran's (Knightstown Coastguard) girlfriend who saw our Facebook post begging for something to be done. She messaged Sean and things were in motion," Suzanne added.

Indeed, search and rescue volunteers from Knightstown Coastguard Unit had been out searching the day before and by noon on Monday Valentia Coastguard Marine Rescue Sub Centre launched a full call-out.

"They called an official call-out due to the amount of public that were involved and the lifeboat was called in as well to scan the shoreline," Knightstown Coastguard Unit Officer in Charge, Pat O'Driscoll, said.

Joining volunteers in the rescue was Tommy McMahon of AHAR who also climbed down the cliff face.

As David and his grandson Chris called Shandon from above, the dog continued to bark and he was eventually found shortly before 4pm.

"He was on a plateau around 150 feet down but he was difficult to find as he was lodged in a crevice three metres deep and two metres long," Pat said.

"There was huge delight as he was brought to safety. I've never seen anything like it before, Dan had been out walking and the dog must have run off to chase something but thankfully it's a happy ending," he added.

Suzanne, meanwhile, has recounted her story on AHAR's Facebook page, including impressive rescue pictures, and the dramatic events had attracted almost 1,400 'likes' by Tuesday evening.

She has thanked all rescue service volunteers on call including Pat, his brother Dan, Muiris Kelly, Alan Cournane, Anthony O'Sullivan, Sean O'Donoghue, Laurance Lynch, Stephen Sullivan, Sean Moran, Mike Moran and TJ Daly.

"The rescuers are some of the nicest guys you could meet to risk their lives for this dog.

"This dog could have died and there was no other rescue call on the day so it was all worth it and I'd do it again," Suzanne added.


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