The SPCA's specialist animal rescue unit has been in action again in the tiny Mohaka settlement of Kotemaori, after yet another pooch took a frightening 200m tumble down a notorious cliff.
Members of the SPCA's National Rescue Unit (NRU) in Wellington were called to Kotemaori on Tuesday and were able to successfully rescue a dog from the foot of a cliff near the tiny settlement - for the fourth time in as many months.
Since May, the specialist team has rescued several unlucky canines. All were rescued from a small area in the notorious Skudder's Ridge area of a Kotemaori forestry block.
NRU technical rescue co-ordinator Gina Kemp said this time the team was alerted that a dog had again gone over a cliff in the area on Monday.
"The dog, a 40kg crossbreed called Lady, had fallen 200-300m down a bank and cliff into a river at the bottom of the gorge on Saturday. NRU deployed on Monday afternoon, stayed the night in Napier, before meeting with the owners [Hugh and the Mary Niblett], forest warden, and two Napier SPCA staff at the Forest HQ on Tuesday morning at 8am," Kemp said.
"Heavy rain had fallen overnight, and the warden warned that the gorge had begun to flood, though now the rain had stopped it was remaining steady.
"A large storm was expected to hit around lunchtime – and the gorge would flood past the point where it would be safe to conduct a rescue, or to expect the dog to survive."
Although the dog had fallen close to the top, it had clearly bounced and rolled some distance down the hill before actually dropping off the cliff.
"As we wanted to get as close to the drop off as we could, we navigated through the bush with the assistance of the owner. When we reached a safe forward point (SFP), the owner called to Lady, who began barking."
A responder was lowered down the cliff and located the dog across a bend - but on the opposite side of the river.
However, whilst considering how to retrieve the dog, Lady decided it was time to go, jumping across rocks and swimming over to the responder.
The team then secured the dog and the responder and dog were hauled up the cliff.
The NRU team was in action in the same area on two separate occasions in June, helping rescue an 18-month-old greyhound cross, which fell off the very same ridge down a 60m cliff into swift water where he was stranded for three days.
That was only a week after rescuing a 2-year-old huntaway, which had fallen down a steep hillside and off a small cliff on the family farm the week before.
In May, two dogs became stuck in the Skudder's Ridge area, after also falling down a gorge.