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

The Animal Rescue-worthy drama started about 9.20am yesterday when Haruru Falls resident Jordan Conn spotted a dog that appeared to be trapped on rocks in the Waitangi River, just downstream from the falls.

Conn put a post on a Paihia Facebook page saying she believed the unfortunate dog had been there all night.

Within minutes a community rescue had swung into action, with the page helping co-ordinate the rescuers' efforts while also keeping the rest of the Bay of Islands vicariously up to date.


Among the first to respond was Brad Windust, a Paihia beekeeper and the driving force behind conservation group Bay Bush Action.

Windust, who owns trained conservation dogs, launched a rescue bid by kayak, paddling to the stranded pet and attempting to bring it to safety.

The dog in the Waitangi River after Brad Windust's attempted kayak rescue. Photo / Brad Windust
The dog in the Waitangi River after Brad Windust's attempted kayak rescue. Photo / Brad Windust

''I tried to pull it on to the kayak when it was bubbling under, but it tried to bite me. Lucky it was too exhausted to bite hard,'' he posted on the page.

Both made it to shore eventually, though Windust feared more than once the dog had drowned.

Even when the dog finally reached safety Windust wasn't sure it would survive because it had taken on so much water.

Whenever he tried to approach the spooked pooch to help it, however, it would retreat back into the water.

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 Windust so he suggested she approach it. She slowly gained its trust, fed it, and got a lead around its neck before coaxing it into her car. It was 12.20pm, three hours after the alarm was raised.

Once in her car it was a changed dog, Miller said.

''It trusted me instantly and got in the front seat. It was very sweet.''

Vet Natalie Struthers, of Village Vets in Paihia, said the ''lovely natured'' 1-2 year old cross-bred male had a few cuts on its footpads but was otherwise unharmed by the ordeal.

The dog is now being looked after by Miller and her family until Kawakawa-based Bay of Islands Animal Rescue can find its owner or a new home. It has no collar or microchip.