It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, but on Thursday it was a case of taking a village to rescue a dog.

A report of a dog stuck on rocks in the Waitangi River sparked a community rescue mission involving a host of dog lovers, a kayak, doggie treats and the power of social media.

The drama began at about 9.20am, when Haruru Falls resident Jordan Conn spotted the dog just downstream from the falls. She posted on the Paihia Facebook page, saying she believed the animal had been there all night, and within minutes a community rescue had swung into action, the page helping co-ordinate the rescuers' efforts while keeping the rest of the Bay of Islands up to date.

Among the first to respond was Paihia beekeeper and conservationist Brad Windust, who paddled his kayak to the dog and tried to pull it on board. It showed its gratitude by trying to bite him, but was too exhausted to bite hard.


Brad's efforts did remind it, however, that it could swim. It dogpaddled ashore, but retreated into the water whenever anyone approached.

It eventually ran off, but with half the population of Haruru on the alert it wasn't long before it was spotted outside a childcare centre on Yorke St. At that point Haruru photographer Lucy Miller saw the Facebook discussion, armed herself with a lead and a bag of doggy treats, and headed to the scene.

The dog was still wary of Brad so Lucy had a go, slowly gaining its trust with treats, then finally getting a lead around its neck and coaxing it into her car, three hours after the alarm was raised.

Once in her car it was a changed dog.

"It trusted me instantly and got in the front seat. It was very sweet," Lucy said.

She took the dog to Village Vets, in Te Haumi. It was later collected by Samantha Stewart, from Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, and taken to Bay of Islands Vets in Kawakawa, vet Natalie Struthers saying the "lovely natured" 1- or 2-year-old crossbred had a few cuts on his feet but was otherwise none the worse for wear.

The dog, which had neither collar nor microchip, is now being looked after by Lucy and her family until Bay of Islands Animal Rescue can find its owner or a new home.