SAR dog rescue

Beeroo poses with Utah County Search and Rescue members after being extracted from a 40-foot deep cavern in avalanche debris. 

A dog named Beeroo was rescued Saturday after spending about seven hours trapped 40 feet down an icy cavern.

Beeroo and his owner were at the popular hiking destination Stewart Falls on Saturday, according to Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Beeroo was off-leash, and ended up falling into a cavern-like area at the base of the second waterfall.

An avalanche in the previous week had deposited more than 40 feet of snow at the base of the falls, which the falling water had melted, carving out a 40-foot deep hole.

Search and rescue was called around 2 p.m., but took a while to respond because of other avalanches they were responding to in Santaquin Canyon, Cannon said. Initially, search teams didn’t even know if the dog was still alive.

A SAR team member dug a second hole down to where the dog fell, and was able to look in to make sure Beeroo was still alive. Though there was avalanche danger in the area, Cannon said the team was concerned that if they didn’t rescue the dog, the owner or other bystanders might attempt a rescue and get trapped or hurt themselves.

The rescue team used anchoring systems in the snow, expanded the hole they had dug, and a team member rappelled about 40 feet down to where Beeroo was trapped. While dogs can be afraid or feel threatened in such situations, Cannon said Beeroo was very friendly and warmed right up to his rescuer, who strapped the dog into a harness to be lifted out of the cavern at about 9:15 p.m.

Cannon said the dog was cold and had some soft tissue damage but no broken bones or other injuries.

“It was fortunate to have a positive outcome here,” Cannon said.

Katie England covers local government, the environment and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

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