Sheila, Dog Over A Cliff

At the top of the trail, Dr. Ryan checks out Sheila just before taking her back to her owner.
August 16, 2016

We received a call for a dog over a cliff at Pt. Defiance Park in Tacoma. The dog, a 70ish lb Black Lab mix named Sheila had fallen over an abrupt drop off. Also on scene was Sheila's owner and some of her friends.

Our first responders arrived shortly before dark, though it was light enough to see where the dog had been seen going over and get a feel for our options. The drop was visually clear for part of the way, so we could get an idea of the actual land involved. Below, we could see the glint of cans and bottles people had thrown over the edge. After the first steep drop of about 150 feet, it leveled out slightly at a line where trees still held on to the crumbly ground. After that was about 200 ft of varying but mostly steep terrain which ended at the beach.

We discussed setting up a rope system so we could lower someone down and have them look on the way or finding a beach access point, mostly likely Owen Beach or Salmon Beach so we could scramble up since we worked on the hypothesis that the dog continued down and we'd have a better chance of finding her closer to the beach. We also weighed heavily the option to come back in the daylight to cut risk to our responders as well as give us the advantage of daylight. We were also conscious of the possibility of Sheila getting trapped by the tide, which would be coming in. We decided to do what we could safely manage at that time and possibly come back the next day if needed.

As the rest of the team arrived, a police officer from the city of Ruston stopped by. He knew the area so he walked us some distance away to an unofficial set of trails that dropped down to an opportunity to cross the terrain rather than descend it. Since this was the safer option, we changed the strategy. We sent responder Aaron down and across with flashlights, headlamps, muzzles, and a harness.

Aaron found his way across while part of the team stayed at the access point and another part went to the original drop off with a flashlight so Aaron could find the right location to start a more intensive search. Aaron also checked the beach, which had fresh dog tracks that crossed each other and then disappeared. He walked the beach calling for Sheila. We sent responder Tammy down to join him. They continued to call for Sheila and the owner called as well as they checked the beach and the land above it.

At the beginning, we'd very occasionally heard barks we felt were probably Sheila's. Once the team and the owner began calling, however, the barks stopped.

Aaron and Tammy returned to the access point and we decided to go back to the point where Sheila had fallen and rappel down her path to see if we could find anything. Aaron and veterinarian Dr. Ryan Peters would be the responders rappelling. While Aaron and Dr. Ryan got harnesses on and gear set up, others checked over the edge with flashlights. We'd see the glints of the beer cans and occasionally something else. Aaron threw the rope bag down in preparation to descend, and he felt certain he saw eyes as it landed.

Aaron went over the edge and a trail of dust followed. It's very dry right now and that part of the hillside is exposed dirt so we waited for the dust to clear and for Aaron to get to a point where we could send Dr. Ryan after him. Aaron radioed up that he had found her and she appeared to be okay.

It's our policy to muzzle all dogs, so Aaron fitted Sheila with a muzzle while Dr. Ryan rappelled down to meet them.

Dr. Ryan did a quick exam to see what her condition was so we knew if we'd need to raise her or if the could walk her out, which is always our preference for safety reasons. She felt Sheila was okay and capable of walking but very tired. Aaron and Dr. Ryan had found her on a little outcropping just big enough for her to sit on with her legs braced in front of her. She had likely had been in that position since around 6 PM when she'd fallen and it was now about 2 AM.

We'd decided it was better to walk her out rather than build the raise system so they put the harness on Sheila, rappelled do a bit farther and found the trail about 70 feet away where Aaron and Tammy had been searching earlier.

Exhausted, she was reluctant to walk and Aaron and Dr. Ryan had to carry her by the harness much of the way. At the trail access point, a couple of team members went down to meet the team with the dog and help assist her up the last steep part, which was a short scramble.

Once up, we took the harness off so Dr. Ryan could check her again. She felt Sheila was dehydrated and exhausted but otherwise okay. We were happy to escort Sheila to her owner. Both seemed very happy to see the other.

We packed up and headed out, the last of us getting home a bit after 4 AM.

We hear Sheila is doing well.


Shelby, Dog Over A Cliff

Shelby rests at the top of the ravine.
August 16, 2016

WASART received a call to assist with a dog over a steep slope. This time it was at Pinnacle Peak Park, near Enumclaw.

Shelby, a 2 year old female Golden Retriever, had fallen over the edge about 1/2 mile up from the trailhead. The owner was out for a hike with two dogs when Shelby got too close to the edge and slipped about 50 feet down. Initially it was not known if she was injured. She could not be seen but could be heard barking.

King County Sheriff Muckleshoot Tribal Police Chief Keeney was first on scene followed by Drs Horton and Herzstein from Country Animal Hospital in Enumclaw. The doctors are climbers as well as veterinarians, so they used a rope system to reach the dog and determine she was okay. Once down, though, they did not have the additional equipment to get themselves and Shelby back up onto the trail.

WASART responder Greta arrived on the scene with the equipment van and assessed the situation. Shortly thereafter responder Aaron arrived and, after communicating with Greta, brought additional equipment up with the generous help from two bystanders.

Meanwhile responder Bill and two Animal Control Officers from Regional Animal Services of King County drove around to the west side of the peak in case Shelby decided to self rescue and leave by the back way.

This turned out to be unnecessary, as the first team had managed to put a harness on the dog, and were in the process of raising her. The owner and Chief Keeney from Muckleshoot Tribal Police assisted with the lift.

Once Shelby was out safe, the equipment was packed out, all responders accounted for, and we headed for home, very pleased that Shelby was out and unharmed.


Checking for Spooked Dog

Setting up the pickets to lower a responder over the edge.
July 8, 2016

We were requested on Vashon Island today for a dog who had fallen over an embankment a few days ago after being frightened by fireworks. (The following is a fairly detailed account of our response, but the summary is we did not find the missing dog.)

We met up with fellow nonprofit Vashon Island Pet Protectors after noon, who, among other things, is a network of volunteers dedicated to re-uniting lost and found companion animals with their owners. They've been looking for the dog, Tumble, since he disappeared. We don’t normally do searches, but this was a very limited area and the dog had certainly gone over in that location, so we deployed to clear an area that was too dangerous to search without technical experience and tools.

The embankment overlooked the water and thick vegetation. The home owner, who let us work on the property even though it was not their dog, marked the spot where the dog had disappeared on the night it happened. This was quick thinking on their part and we are very appreciative. We could see where the dog had broken brush going down.

While we were figuring things out, VIPP had sent out a call for help and gotten together an impressive group of volunteers. These included people standing by to help haul should we find the dog and need help and small collection of amazing first responders with Seattle Fire, including some with technical experience.

We felt it was best to send a responder over the edge and follow the trail of broken salal, blackberries, and nettles as far as he could. There were no good places to attach ropes near where we needed them, so we set up some pickets using two sets of four foot long spikes we carry with us in the truck.

Responder Aaron went over with a machete and a long-sleeved shirt. About 60 feet down he found the bandana the Tumble was wearing. He pocketed this to return to the owner. Once the ground leveled out, he followed the leveled out area. The terrain became manageable with deer trails crisscrossing the hillside.

Unless we have a reason to have someone alone, such as one person attached to a rope over a cliff, we keep people paired up for safety. Aaron was off the ropes by now since the terrain was safe to explore without them, so we sent responder Jeff over the edge next. Jeff would be a second set of eyes as well as Aaron’s second person.

Meanwhile, Seattle Fire responder, Marci, had joined our team and was a welcome addition, helping coordinate and communicate with Aaron. A couple of fire responders, Janet and Annie, had gone down another route to try to meet up with Jeff and Aaron. Once Jeff was also off rope, most of the remaining volunteers drove to a trailhead for a path that wound parallel to the embankment. They would meet up with Aaron and Jeff and head back up.

We did not find Tumble, but we hope we’ve set his owner’s mind at ease knowing he wasn’t in the technical area they hadn't been able to search. VIPP will continue to search the area between the embankment and the beach as well as other parts of Vashon they are familiar with and we wish them the best of luck.

We appreciated being welcomed by the tight-knit Vashon Island community for our day in their area, and for meeting the dedicated folks of VIPP. We also thank the Seattle Fire personnel who came out on their own time to help out.


Nooksack River Dog Rescue

Marcia, dog, and raft land on the rescue side of the river. IC Rory immediately takes the dog to animal control, where he is checked by a vet and handed over to Whatcom Humane.
May 25, 2016

Late last week, someone rented a cabin along the Nooksack River in Whatcom County. On a hike along the river, she noticed a dog on the other side barking for her attention. The slope the dog was on angled steeply up, and it didn’t seem like the dog could easily leave. There was a rushing river between them, and nothing the woman could safely do. Back near the cabin, she mentioned it to someone staying in another cabin who said she’d seen the same dog a day or two earlier. So the woman called for help.

WASART received two calls on Friday afternoon, one from a Whatcom County Animal Control Officer (ACO) and one from the woman reporting the dog. One of our members in Whatcom County went to check it out. Back in cell phone range, the scout reported the operation would need swift water and technical rescue teams along with more hands to help support the deployment. Summit to Sound Search & Rescue (STS) agreed to help us. If you recall the Vedder Mountain/Sumas rescue of the little black dog last year, they were there for that. You may recognize familiar faces as well – one of the swift water people, Ed, was one of the people rappelling to bring the dog home. The other person rappelling with Ed for that mission was WASART’s Rory, who was lead (IC) on this mission. In short, we love STS and are always glad to get a chance to work with them.

On Saturday morning, after we all assembled near the trailhead in the driveway of a kind couple who helped make our day way better by allowing us to use their restroom (seriously kind of them), part of the team scoped the operation, then came back and we all worked on a plan. Once the plan was decided on, we ran through some practice for getting the dog secured once he was caught and practice of the throw bag for safety. Throw bags are used in swift water rescue to give anyone who ends up swept off their feet in the water (always a real danger) a couple of chances to save themselves. A bag filled with rope is thrown ahead of the victim in hopes they can catch the rope before drowning or hitting rapids. Many of our volunteers ended up on throw bag duty for safety reasons: the section the dog was stranded on was bookended by rapids. We also had one person stationed before the first set of rapids to alert us if kayakers were coming. The river is a favorite destination for the sport and we’d need to make sure they could get past us safely.

The hike to the dog was very short—maybe a quarter of a mile. We split the everyone up into teams: the lookout for the kayakers, the swift water team who would travel to the other side of the river and attempt to secure the dog, an observer or two above the operation, and the throw bag team set at intervals down stream.

As soon as the dog saw us, he started barking. He wanted our attention. His tail wagged low and slowly. He barked at the swift water team, then noticed the other teams taking their places and ran and slipped down the bank to bark at them.

The swift water team set up the lines they’d use and the two rescuers who were in dry suits got into place. These two rescuers are Ed and Marcia, who is a WASART member as well as an STS member. Marcia went first with a paracord messenger line tied to her. The cord would also act as a way to pull a heavier rope over. The heavier rope would then be used to ferry over equipment, people, and hopefully the dog. After some strong swimming, Marcia landed safely on the other side. She approached to dog slowly, who barked at her and then turned and ran. Once nearly out of sight, he sat and waited. Marcia, hoping the dog would get used to the idea she was there and return, tied the paracord to the tree as an anchor. Together with the rest of the team assisting the swift water rescuers, she got the heavier rope over. The team then got a small inflatable raft attached to a pulley and Ed crossed the river to join Marcia.

Once Ed was over, he and Marcia waited a bit to see if the dog would return. While this wait was going on, a plan B was made to trap the dog in case it remained too wary of Marcia and Ed. A couple of responders went back to the truck to get a crate and some cans of wet dog food. Since the dog was downstream, it would be able to smell the food fairly quickly and we hoped his hunger would assist in trapping him. While waiting for the crate, the dog had begun to work his way over to Marcia and Ed. He slipped on the rocks, circled back and tried to go up and around, slipped again – badly this time, and kept heading up the steep hill.

The crate arrived and the team sent it over to the dog side of the stream. While Ed worked on rigging an impromptu trap out of the crate, Marcia made her way up the hill. The dog was out of sight amongst the trees both standing and fallen and the undergrowth. There is a plant in that area called Devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus) which has spikes up and down the plant. Much of the hillsides were covered with the plant, and on the dog side of the river where Marcia made her way up, old Devil’s club plants filled in where the blown down trees lay, making the steep trip up to find the dog even more difficult and her dry suit did not provide much protection.

Marcia spotted the dog, who stood and watched her. She approached slowly. The dog was wary, but allowed her approach. Marcia finally reached him and carefully secured him by the collar. The dog did not want to come down with her. Marcia tied an emergency muzzle on him.

Once finished with the crate, Ed headed up to see if he could assist Marcia. Once he reached her and the dog, they carefully picked the dog up and began the descent. Because of the steep and difficult terrain, the two passed the dog back and forth so they could safely make it down with the dog. Once down, they continued to pass him back and forth as they worked their way back to the rope and anchor. Marcia sat and rested with the dog while Ed broke the crate down, secured it to the raft along with any unnecessary supplies and sent it back over. The responder side team sent the raft back for the rescuers. Marcia and the dog were next. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to secure the dog on the raft for the trip over. Once one method was decided on, the Marcia and the dog started the journey over. The trip on the raft was short-lived. The Marcia and the dog ended up on the water as the responder side team hauled on the ropes as fast as they could to get the pair over. Marcia held on to the raft with one hand and kept the dog’s head above the water with the other. On the other side, the dog stood and shook himself off. The dog was taken immediately to the ACO, who, along with another responder went back to the vehicles and took the dog to the vet for an emergency checkup.

Meanwhile, the team got Ed safely back to the responder side, cleaned up equipment and headed back.

This is a first for WASART: we’ve never had a swift water rescue before. We’re fortunate to have the friendship, professionalism, and assistance of fellow volunteer organization STS. If you appreciate what we do, we can always use donations for gas and to replace rescue equipment retired from service because it is too stressed to safely reuse. Sharing this post so others get to know more about us in case they need our services would also be welcomed. We're an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible, and the same goes for Summit to Sound Search & Rescue.


STS: (donate button is on the first page)

Thanks for your support! We couldn’t do it without you.

UPDATE ON THE DOG: An owner was never found for the dog, named Cliff by the shelter staff. He was adopted out.


Baby Girl Pig Raise

Baby Girl rests in the sling as the family spends some time with her.
May 25, 2016

We had a deployment to help out a 450 lb. pet pig who could not stand on her own. We rigged her with straps, loaded her onto the glide, and moved her under the tripod for the raise.

Once on her feet with the straps supporting her weight in part, we worked on getting her to move her hind legs, which are what were keeping her from being able to stand on her own. She didn't seem to be improving after a reasonable amount of time, so after consulting with vets, the owners made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her.

A deployment is not always a happy ending, but we are glad to have had the opportunity to meet this sweet girl help out where we could.

Our thoughts are with the family.


Honey the Horse Stuck in the Mud

Honey lands safely after being stuck in the mud.
May 25, 2016

As we were wrapping up this spring’s Fundamentals Training, we received a call about a horse in a creek in Everett. Part of the training involved the technical rescue team giving a demo on the bipod/tripod and various rope systems, so many of the technical responder were on site at the training, dressed, and ready to go, so we headed out to Everett from the training in Buckley, about 90 minutes away. We also sent out a call for other members up to date on their credentials because we suspected we’d need all the hands we could get.

We arrived on scene with an hour of daylight to spare and were directed to the creek, which ran through a cow pasture that was thankfully accessible to the equipment van. The horse, a Thoroughbred named Honey, lay in a slackwater creek just to the side of a bridge, forelegs extended out from a number of attempts at self-rescue. She shivered from the stress.

The location’s geography would make this a difficult rescue. The creek cut deep into the silt of the ground and the soft muck on the bottom of the creek made the situation dangerous.

We had a quick discussion about the different options and finally settled on placing one foot of the bipod on the bridge and one on the rescue side of the bank. We’d try to slip the supporting straps of the Becker sling under Honey and then lower the spreader bar to attach to the straps. After this we’d lift her vertically, pivot the bipod to solid ground and lower her.

One of the big dangers we needed to work around was the deep muck at the bottom of the creek and the muddy water. We couldn’t have a rescuer in the water with her. The water barely moved but the unexpected flailing of the horse could suck a responder under the animal and into the mud. JC, one our best horse handlers, would be attendant to the horse, meaning he’d work closest to her and try to keep her as calm as possible. He stood on the steep bank, talking to Honey as we prepped. To keep JC safe, he put on a climbing harness and we attached a safety rope and had someone manage the rope so he wouldn’t fall in.

We also had the good fortune to have a vet, Dr. Penny Lloyd of Cedarbrook Veterinary Care, on site with a sedative in case Honey needed a bit of help to stay calm and advice should we need it.

JC and a few others worked on getting the support straps under Honey with a strope guide, which is a long flat piece of metal with an opening at the end to slip straps through. The guide slides under the horse, the straps are threaded through the opening, and then the guide is pulled back through with the strap following like thread on a needle. Honey’s continued attempts to self-rescue made this difficult.

While this was going on, the rest of the team built the bipod and set up the rope systems that would manage the bipod angles, raise the horse, and stabilize the whole system.

We were ready to go just as dark descended.

Often times when horses are stuck in mud or bogs, we have to be very careful of the suction that will fight the raise and damage the horse’s legs. Legs are meant to bear weight, not be pulled on. The muck was very water-heavy so we didn’t need to be as concerned with this, though we were cognizant of it as we gave the order to pull.

Honey cleared out of the water fairly easily, and seemed calm. However, once in the air, she thrashed and we were very glad of the careful rigging which kept her and everyone safe.

We pivoted the bipod to swing Honey onto the rescue side of the creek. Just before she touched down, she panicked and thrashed some more. As soon as she calmed a bit, Dr. Penny slipped in and gave her a sedative, which helped nearly immediately.

We continued to lower her. The sedative kept her from noticing the ground right away, but as soon as she did, she stood and was able to bear weight on all four legs.

We unhooked her from the sling and she was led away to be examined more thoroughly by Dr. Penny. We took a deep breath, gathered our stuff, and headed home.

We’ve heard Honey has a few scrapes and scratches but is doing well and being taken care of.

A big thanks to Honey’s owner, the property owners, neighbors, Dr. Penny, everyone else who was on site to lend a hand, as well as the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for giving us the gift of their trust. We’re very appreciative of the support they gave us.

If you appreciate what we do, we can always use donations for gas money or to help replace our more specialized and expensive equipment as it gets stressed and taken out of service. We're an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible.

Thanks for your support everyone!


Tia, Horse over an Embankment

Horse Tia slipped over an embankment and needed help out.
December 28, 2015

On August 28, 2016 we deployed very early in the morning to help with a horse down an embankment. The call originally came to search and rescue as a rider injured, so Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR) and Explorer Search and Rescue (ESAR) deployed in the dark to head up the 4.5+ miles up the beginning of Section J of the Pacific Crest Trail. They knew the rider was uninjured and back at the campsite she, her husband, and a friend had set up. The teams went to check on the owner, evaluate the horse situation, as well as escort the rider’s friend up with overnight supplies. They arrived to find a horse and rider had run into a bit of bad luck and slipped off the trail earlier in the day.

One of the ESAR volunteers is also a WASART volunteer, so he was able to help advise. The horse seemed uninjured and in good health, and the rider seemed alright as well, so they determined they'd try early in the morning to try to extract the horse via plan A and call for more help if their plan didn’t work out. The ESAR and SMR responders spent a cold and damp night near the horse.

Plan A is almost always to try to walk the horse out through a more shallow route. Plan B was to help the horse down the steep remaining 20 feet before the ground leveled out with the help of a rear assist. Plan C, if neither of those worked, would be to sedate the horse, wrap her in our rescue glide, set up a rope system, and haul her up.

Though there were no obvious injuries, the horse was not willing to move in the morning and the search and rescue operations leader gave the okay to call us in. We'd been made aware of the situation the night before and had members ready for the call at 5 a.m.

We headed out, picked up the van and all met at the trailhead about 9:30 a.m. Already on site were other assisting agencies, including the Incident Support Team, who handle radios and paperwork, and Dr. Dana Westerman, who was just setting out to attend the horse. (As an aside, if you have a vet who is willing to hike over 9 miles round trip and attend her, you know you have someone amazing.)

We grabbed equipment we'd need in case it came to plan C, which included heavy rope bags and the even heavier and awkward Rescue Glide that is one of our number one tools in rescuing livestock.

As we left we got word the Northwest Horseback Search and Rescue Team were being called in as well, which meant additional equipment that may be needed could be packed in on the horses. In addition, it meant they'd be available for the hike back out.

The hike up meant finding a way to make the awkward glide less awkward, which ended up being to bend and strap it into a taco shape and have one or two people pulling from the front and another in the rear holding onto a tag line to keep it from drifting down hill.

The hike itself was always at an incline or a decline and looking at the charts for the Pacific Crest trail, the section we traveled was about 2500 elevation gain.

At the top, we found all the agencies working together to make a plan that would be safest and best for everyone involved. The horse, Tia, was about 100 feet down a 45 degree slope. Plan C was determined to not be safe, as the trail was too narrow to allow for the horse to get out of the glide safely. Fortunately, it looked like plan A combined with plan B would work best, where the horse could be walked out at the route with the least incline after being helped down the first 20 feet with the rear assist.

Crews began to find that path and mark it with grid tape, which is a florescent ribbon used for marking trees. Other responders cleared logs and other obstacles with chainsaws, tools, or brawn while WASART responder JC gained Tia's trust and coaxed her forward a tiny step at time. She was hesitant and shook with each step but gradually got better as she moved.

Much of the team followed at a distance to not spook Tia, but to be on hand in case they were needed as well as collect the grid tape markers. Tia and the responders walked through the woods and clearings and eventually met up with the trail about a mile downhill of where they started.

Tia and her owner, handlers, and Dr. Dana continued back to the parking lot, and the rest of the team hiked back to help carry gear back out. Most was loaded onto the packhorses, for which we are very grateful – we were all very tired at that point. The one piece we had to carry down was the glide. It was too large and made too much noise and would likely spook the patient packhorses, so we took turns wrestling the glide back down the hill.

At the bottom, we were met by The Soup Ladies, a non-profit volunteer organization who are called in to larger responses to serve amazing home cooked soups to responders.

While we recovered with soup and bread, Tia munched on hay and looked to be doing well.


Anakin, a Horse with a Past Gets a Lift

Anakin, a horse with a past as a research animal, fell onto hard times and needed help standing back up.
December 28, 2015

On Saturday, December 7, we were called to assist in raising a horse who was down and could not stand. A woman had rescued the horses only a couple of days before from a situation where neither horse was getting enough to eat. Both horses were thin, but one was much more so with ribs and hips clearly visible where they shouldn't be. A couple days after getting the horses, the thinner one, an 18 year old Thoroughbred gelding named Anakin, was down and could not stand. This is a bad position for a horse to be in, as laying down for long periods risks blood clots in the legs and can cause stroke or death.

We were already somewhat nearby on an assessment for another callout, so the responders agreed to divert to Winlock to see if they could help. The team, with the help of neighbors, the Becker sling and the Häst tripod, was able to get the horse up and standing on his own. Because a horse being unable to stand is often because of a serious issue resulting in euthanization, we are guarded in our expectations. Anakin gained his feet and was able to stand on his own, so the responders packed up and left. Anakin was checked out by a vet.

On Monday, Anakin was down again, so we returned to Winlock. First we attempted to roll him, as that will often give a horse a chance to stand if the side he is down on was weak. After this was unsuccessful, the team set up the tripod and pulled out the sling again. We were able to raise him, and he stood. Sometimes in these cases, it's clear the horse is tired and has given up. This was not the case with Anakin.

We swapped out horse blankets and added some extras. The starvation meant he had no insulation to keep warm. We paused before taking down the tripod as Anakin was unrigged from the sling and walked around. The owners and neighbors continued to walk him as their trailer was prepared. A neighbor down the street had an arena he could stay the night in and then he'd be sent to Save a Forgotten Equine (S.A.F.E.), up in Woodinville. S.A.F.E. has accepted him into their rescue. They'll be working on rehabilitating him.

Anakin is currently with S.A.F.E. and the report is his outlook is positive.

A big thanks go to the caring person who rescued him, her friend who found him in that situation, Valhalla Canine Rescue (who live just down the street and were there to help haul lines), and S.A.F.E.

If you like what we do, please consider chipping in a bit for gas and equipment. We're all-volunteer and donation based, so the only way we can continue to save lives is with your help. Thanks for your support!


Lars East, a Friesian with Arthritic Hips

Lars, a Friesian with arthritic hips needed help up after he laid down in his stall.
December 28, 2015

On December 22, we received a call yesterday evening about a Friesian gelding who was down in his stall and could not get up so we sent nine responders to the location in Snohomish, WA to assist with getting him to his feet.

The horse, a 20 year old named Lars East (there is another Lars in the barn named Lars West), had some arthritis in his hips and couldn't make it up. He was trying. He rolled over and made other attempts but could never quite gain his feet. The vet, Dr. Haffner of Emerald Equine Services in Snohomish, WA, was providing medical care, giving him IV fluids and sedatives to keep him calm while we waited for the equipment truck to make it through rush hour traffic from Enumclaw.

Additionally, two more of our responders who also volunteer with a King County Search and Rescue unit were just finishing up rescuing some hikers up on Snoqualmie Pass so they drove straight over to help. It's a busy time of year for search and rescue and they are two of our best horse people so we were very happy to have them.

The ceiling on the stall was too short to set up the tripod so we decided to put him on the Rescue Glide and move him to the arena next to the barn. There, half the team worked on setting up the tripod while the other half moved Lars onto the glide and safely strapped him in. There was some concern about getting him out the stall entrance. Friesians are large horses, built to pull carts and other loads, and the entrance is designed with enough width to walk a horse into the stall, not to pull one out on his side. To add to the challenge, because his back end was the issue, we weren't sure we could tuck his back legs tightly enough into his body to get him out.

We knew we'd be using the Becker Sling to lift him so we used its straps to move him onto the glide. This involves sliding an especially designed flat piece of metal under the horse, attaching the straps to it and pulling them through. Then responders pulled him via the straps onto the glide. After some adjustments and for safety concerns, we put hobbles on all four legs . They barely fit because his pasterns were large but we managed it. Usually, once hobbles are on to control the legs, we attach a rope and pull the legs in tight to the body. In this case, trying to tuck in the back legs seemed to cause discomfort so we kept the back legs straight and decided to slide the glide out as you would move a couch around a corner -- a little out, then readjust the angle to clear the legs. This ended up working well. We had some help from people in the barn which was gratefully accepted. The more hands, the easier the work in cases like this. A responder also held his head up so it would not touch the ground during the transfer .

Once in the arena, we slid him under the tripod, finished rigging the Becker Sling and pulled him to his feet using a 9:1 system. This is always the moment of truth for cast horses. Sometimes they are unable to stand because there is an issue with their spine and their legs don't respond or some other medical reason. Fortunately for Lars, he was able to stand on his own. Dr. Haffner gave him more fluids, and we kept Lars rigged for a bit longer to make sure he'd be able to stay on his feet. Lars also got some treats and a bin of hay to munch on. After we got the nod from Dr. Haffner, we removed the Becker Sling off Lars and disassembled the tripod.

We left a blanketed Lars eating hay in the arena. Another horse was moved into the arena so he'd have company for the night.

And hey, we made a video! Alas the filming was less than perfect but we'll take it.

If you appreciate what we do, we can always use donations for gas and to replace rescue equipment retired from service because it is too stressed to safely reuse. Sharing this post so others get to know more about us in case they need our services would also be welcomed. We're an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible.

Thanks for your support!


Okanogan Complex Fires

A volunteer with a stray who was brought to the shelter.
August 26, 2015

We opened an emergency companion animal shelter across from the Red Cross to help people who needed to evacuate their homes take care of themselves by taking care of their animals for them. Animals are stressed at times like these, so we did our best to give them exercise and attention.

We've since demobilized that specific shelter and remain on standby for other needs. If you or people you know need help, please contact the Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 509-422-7348 or Animal Control Officer Dave Yarnell at 509-846-6026.

We recognize how hopeless it feels to sit back and watch it all unfold. We'd encourage all of you to do what you can in your own communities.

Start with yourselves.

Make sure you have a go bag packed for you, your family, and your animals. The bag should be something you can grab and go with your family and pets within 15 minutes.

This may help you get started:

Human preparedness kit

Animal preparedness kit

To help your neighbors, your local area may have a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Find one near you.

Emergency Number

425 681-5498





Sheila, Dog Over A Cliff

Sheila, a 70 lb mix, fell over a cliff and needed to be rescued.

More rescues...

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