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Dog saved after nearly two weeks in W.Va. cave

Journal photo by Ron Agnir “Baker,” a rescued 2-year-old female pit bull sits with Denise Lambiotti, supervisor, Jefferson County Animal Control in Kearneysville on Tuesday afternoon.
Journal photo by Ron Agnir
“Baker,” a rescued 2-year-old female pit bull sits with Denise Lambiotti, supervisor, Jefferson County Animal Control in Kearneysville on Tuesday afternoon.

BAKERTON, W.Va. — A stray dog trapped in a cave for nearly two weeks is now safe and sound, due to the efforts of local animal control officers, firefighters and medics.

Lyn Sisler, a resident of Bakerton, called the Jefferson County Animal Control office Monday, and said she had been hearing a dog barking near her home.

“It sounded like it was coming from underground, or at least not from the street in the neighborhood. I had been hearing this for more than 10 days,” Sisler said.

Sisler said a few days before she called Animal Control, her neighbor went down to the entrance of a cave in the woods her home. He brought a small raft to try and reach the dog, which was not on land, but was not successful.

Denise Lambiotte, Jefferson County Animal Control supervisor, said she went down to the cave after she received the call from Sisler.

Lambiotte called Josh Smith, the chief at the Bakerton Fire Department, and asked if his crew could perform a water rescue.

“(Smith) started calling people to coordinate the water rescue. Nine volunteer firefighters and a swiftwater rescue team carried two rafts back into the woods to where the dog was,” Lambiotte said. “I was in the raft with the swiftwater rescue team, and I saw the dog was not very far back in the cave. She was standing on top of a pile of rocks, barking and growling because she was scared.”

Though the dog seemed agitated, Lambiotte said the dog reacted in a friendly manner when rescue workers offered it food and treats, and they were able to get the dog back on land.

According to Lambiotte, animal control officers have contacted the owner of the dog, but have not received a reply.

No reports of a missing dog came in until Sisler called, she said.

“We know who the owner is and we’re trying to reach them,” Lambiotte said. “Our hope is that they will allow us to put the dog up for adoption.”

The dog has been taken to a veterinarian for evaluation, but Lambiotte said the dog’s health was not as bad as she had expected, given the dog had been missing for nearly two weeks.

“She was skinny and dehydrated, but not all bones, and she definitely scarfed down the food we gave her. She’s a very sweet, friendly dog with a high energy level. We found a few cuts and scratches, but she’s in pretty good shape for being missing that long.”

There have been talks about the Bakerton Fire Department possibly adopting the dog as a mascot for the station if no one else adopts it, but they will wait in case someone wants to adopt the dog as a pet.

Smith could not be reached for comment.

Lambiotte said she was impressed by the quick response and efficient work of the volunteers from the Bakerton Fire Department.

“This was a precision operation, but the firefighters and rescue workers did an outstanding job, and they did it quickly,” she said.

Sisler said she thinks there may be another dog stuck in the cave, and has contacted Animal Control, but said she was also touched by the response during the rescue.

“It’s uplifting to see people come together like that to save this dog,” she said. “This is a heartwarming story that shows there are people who do care.”

– Staff writer Mary Stortstrom can be reached at 304-725-6581 or twitter.com/mstortstromJN.

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