PERRY COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) — A spelunking group in Perry County, Missouri found and rescued a senior dog that had been missing for nearly two months.
The group was deep inside the Tom Moore Cave system when they discovered the dog, Abby.
The cave itself is about 24.5 miles long, the second longest in Missouri. It’s unclear how long Abby had been in the cave or how she managed to survive.
There is some running water in the cave, as well as fish and crustaceans, but rescuers said there was total darkness in the part of the cave where the dog was found.
Rick Haley, a trained cave rescuer, was on hand to oversee a sump dive, a mixture of dry caving and cave diving in water. There was an issue with a diver’s equipment when he was notified of the dog.
Haley says Abby was in pretty bad shape and they had to navigate her through 500 feet in a very tight vertical climb. The cave itself was about 22 miles long and reported to be the 23rd longest cave in the United States.
“We bundled and zipped her up. And she laid down and went to sleep at that point because this was probably the driest, softest and warmest thing that this dog had seen in a very long time. I’m talking weeks, maybe longer,” Haley told “NewsNation Prime.”
Haley and Gerry Keene successfully maneuvered Abby through a two-foot opening in the cave and then some 500 feet over a long vertical climb to safely get her back outside.
“I was concerned that she wasn’t going to make it. But she is. It was a little tough for me to go to sleep that night, but when my head hit the pillow I had a smile on my face,” Haley said.
Once outside the cave, fire officials helped the rescuers go door-to-door in the area to find Abby’s owner. After a surprising reunion, the owner told rescuers they hadn’t seen Abby since June 9 and thought the dog was gone forever.
NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield spokewith Jeff Bohnert, Abby’s owner, on Monday night.
“She’s really recovering. She’s got her a lot of her normal energy back. She’s got a long ways to go. She’s still skinny, but for a little over a week out. I would say she’s doing fantastic.”
Neither Haley nor Bohnert are sure what Abby was eating during the two months that she was missing.
“It’s fantastic. It’s a miraculous story of survival. I’m just glad to be part of it,” Haley said.