Missing dogs saved after five days in sinkhole

2009-04-27 00:00

Hilton resident Pauline Bowman-Edgar was overjoyed yesterday when she was reunited with her dogs, Dalmatian Chess and Weimaraner Schiller, who literally disappeared — into a hidden four-metre-deep sinkhole — while on an outing five days ago.

Witness features editor Shelagh McLoughlin heard the trapped canines barking underground while walking her own dogs at about 4.30 pm yesterday, and called in the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

She said she was initially alerted by her dogs sniffing around the dangerous hole, which was completely covered by a carpet of grass. She had already turned to leave when she heard barking and looked back to check on her animals. They were all there and the barking continued.

“It had a sort of cavernous sound like it was coming from a drainpipe or something, and I realised immediately it was coming from underground and that there was nothing I could do, so I called the SPCA.”

Inspector Robert Lombard of Howick SPCA and a colleague attached to the Pietermaritzburg branch, Alec Wylie, joined forces to effect a rescue, well supported by members of the local community who crowded round and willingly helped by shining torches and giving encouragement.

“It all ended happily with the dogs being brought up a ladder and being put into their owner’s car.

[The owner] was almost in tears,” McLoughlin said.

She said Bowman-Edgar said she had almost given up hope of finding her lost pets, which vanished while walking with her son in the area — a popular spot for walkers — near the Hilton Hotel. That was on election day, April 22.

Since then Bowman-Edgar has returned to the area daily in search of her beloved dogs, but to no avail.

When the community became aware of the rescue yesterday, some of the locals put two and two together and realised who the dogs belonged to.

The unsung heroes of the rescue are, however, McLoughlin’s dogs, Tara, Zak and Basil, whose sharp sense of smell led to the discovery.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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