Dog suffers five nights on Napier cliff with broken leg

By Patrick O'Sullivan -
1 comment
Cocker spaniel Bluey with a broken leg after its ordeal. PHOTO/TIM WHITTAKER www.tim.co.nz
Cocker spaniel Bluey with a broken leg after its ordeal. PHOTO/TIM WHITTAKER www.tim.co.nz

After five long nights on a cliff edge suffering a broken leg and severe dehydration, cocker spaniel Bluey will soon be home with his owners thanks to the Napier Fire Service, Napier Port and the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter.

Bluey's owner said despite being stuck in pain on a bushy ledge above Breakwater Rd opposite Napier Port he was now "bright as a button".

The 4-year-old black-and-white dog was being taken for a walk at the public lookout reserve at the top of Bluff Hill on Monday night when he disappeared.

The assumption was he had got past the cliff-side fence and an abseiling crew from Napier Fire Service went looking on Tuesday.

Senior Station Officer Mark McGill said the wrong location was given so Bluey was not found.

Photographer Tim Whittaker was contacted by the distraught owner and asked if he could deploy his flying drone to try to locate Bluey.

"He told me he was there one minute and gone the next," Mr Whittaker said.

"His main concern was it was just lying there in pain and would have died over the next few weeks."

The drone flew along the cliff face on Thursday, taking a long series of photos free of charge, to no avail.

The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter was also contacted but the owners told they would have to wait until it was passing and the pilots would keep an eye out.

This he did on a training flight on Saturday, spotting Bluey on a ledge further along the cliff face than previously searched.

"They took photographs that gave us an idea where it was," Mr McGill said.

"We stuck some guys in a crane on the wharf and they spotted it with binoculars."

Two fire trucks and a team of 12 returned to the site shortly after 1pm, where they found Bluey had fallen 70m.

"We went straight down on top of him."

Bluey's received a drink from his rescuer's water bottle and was placed in a bag.

"The dog was quite quiet about the whole thing and he just carried on down to the bottom and handed him over the fence to the owners. Home and hosed."

Mr McGill said Bluey looked to have fallen about 50m down a steep slope before falling 20m down a vertical cliff , hitting some shrubbery on a bushy ledge which saved his life. If he had fallen the 20m to the bottom of the cliff he probably would have died.

The shaken owner, who asked not to be named, said she was delighted Bluey was alive but declined to be named or comment after several sleepless nights, but said Bluey was recovering well at a local veterinary practice with a broken rear leg.

"He is as bright as a button after all the rehydration and care," she said.

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