Dog rescued off canyon ledge

Lady, a 9-year-old yellow labrador, was rescued with minimal injuries after falling off a ledge at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon on June 23.

What started as a harrowing experience for a beloved family pet ended in what her owner is calling a miracle.

Lady, a 9-year-old yellow Labrador, was rescued with minimal injuries after falling off a ledge at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon on June 23.

“We think of her as one of our children,” said Sarah Jackson, Lady’s owner, of Saint Clair. “We always include her in family time and trips and we often take her for walks and hikes in the mountains.”

Jackson’s family has a cabin around Wellsboro and they’ve visited the canyon with Lady in the past. She explained that her parents were visiting the Colton Point side of the canyon on June 23 while dog sitting Lady at the cabin. Around 9:15 a.m., the dog caught scent of something, ran, slipped through a guardrail and fell about 40 feet before rolling and sliding halfway down the canyon.

She said her parents called for Lady but got no response. Due to having poor cell phone service, they drove to a DCNR maintenance building, where a staff member made the emergency calls. Jackson’s mom returned to the site.

“She began calling for Lady again and this time Lady barked in response. My mom immediately called my dad who was still at the maintenance building to report Lady was alive. In an area she shouldn’t have been able to get cell reception, she got through,” said Jackson.

DCNR forest rangers, park rangers and Wellsboro Fire Department personnel responded to the scene. Jackson said forest rangers climbed up the side of the mountain to where Lady was trapped.

Brian Caldwell, chief DCNR ranger of the Tioga State Forest, said the rescue was a great collaborative effort. Park ranger Henry Brooks guided a team to the bottom of the vista where Lady fell. Forester Tom Oliver was the one who found her.

“Tom came across her in tall weeds only about 300-400 yards from the bottom,” said Caldwell. “She fell probably 40-50 feet straight down and rolled several hundred feet until she came to rest where she was found. It’s hard to comprehend how far she fell. I’m shocked she wasn’t seriously injured.”

Caldwell said Oliver comforted Lady, then he and others crafted a stretcher from T-shirt and branches.

“It’s more for people than animals, but it works,” said Caldwell. “Every three years or so we do a week-long training search for people. Nearly all our people are trained as search responders or search managers.”

He added that his department receives calls for people lost or stuck in the canyon several times a year, but seldom for dogs. In nearly 20 years with DCNR, Caldwell has only seen two or three such calls, but none fell as far as Lady and were rescued by repelling a short distance from the top of the canyon.

Caldwell said the team carried Lady on the stretcher down the mountain, across Pine Creek and to the Rail Trail. That’s where Caldwell, Jackson’s parents and an ambulance were waiting when they were reunited shortly after noon. Lady was taken to Grand Canyon Veterinary Hospital in Wellsboro where no major injuries were discovered and was released the next day.

“They couldn’t believe she didn’t have any serious injuries. She sustained a cut on her paw and had a few small contusions on her lung,” said Jackson. “This experience was a true miracle. We believe God preserved her life and protected her rescuers because they risked their lives to save our Lady. We are so grateful to the DCNR rangers and staff, the Wellsboro Fire Department and ambulance and the veterinary hospital.”

She added, “Lady is back to her old self. You can’t tell anything ever happened.”