Climbers rescue dog from cave 2 months after pup was reported missing

13-year-old dog was rescued by cavers in Missouri

Spelunkers rescued a lost dog from a cave in Perry County, Missouri, on Saturday, August 6, according to rescuer Rick Haley. Credit: Rick Haley via Storyful

PERRY COUNTY, Mo. – Spelunkers in Missouri were startled earlier this month when they went to explore a cave and found a dog.

The 13-year-old pooch was discovered on Aug. 6 in the Tom Moore cave system by a group of cavers led by Gerry Keene, according to the Southeast Missourian.

“She’s in the pitch black, and the poor baby wouldn’t even move for us at first,” Keene told the paper. “But once she had been in the light for a bit, she started to get energized.”

The dog, whose name is Abby, was found lying in the middle of the main passage and the cavers said she seemed to have given up.

“The entrance is not inconsequential. You have to crawl. It’s vertical. It’s steep. There’s hardly anything to hang onto, and it’s very tight in places,” said Cave Research Foundation survey member Rick Haley.

Haley was also in the caves that day doing an underwater cave or “sump” dive to try to connect one cave to another, according to the Southeast Missourian.

Haley said he and Keene facilitated the rescue of the dog and were able to put her in a duffle bag with her head sticking out.

See images of Abby during and after the rescue in the video player at the top of this article.

“We moved her 500 feet to a very tight, awkward, vertical climb, handing her hand to hand upward to the surface,” Haley said in a Facebook post. “She was totally cooperative.”

Heavy rains in the area are thought to have swept Abby into the cave system.

“There’s plenty of water down there but zero things to eat,” said Haley.

Reuniting Abby with her owner turned out to be much easier than rescuing her from the cave.

During the rescue, Jeff Bohner, Abby’s owner who lives in the area, was told by a neighbor that his dog might have been found.

Bohner went to the entrance to the cave system and was able to identify Abby, despite her muddy and emaciated appearance.

“She’s still very thin, but she’s been eating well. She’s slowly getting back to a regular diet,” said Bohner.

The Southeast Missourian reported that Abby and Bohner’s other dog Summer have the run of the area but that on June 9, only Summer returned home.

“They’re pretty inseparable so I knew something had happened to her,” Bohner said.

Following Abby’s rescue, Bohner said she is recovering well.

“She’s walking around and friendly. Looks like she’s going to make a full recovery,” he said.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.