When a one-year-old hunting dog named Orange fell 81 feet into a shaft in the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve on Kauai, it was a state botanist who came to his rescue.
This morning, botanist Adam Williams, a certified arborist with the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, rappelled into the shaft to successfully rescue the Catahoula mix, who had been stuck in the pit since Saturday.
“Thank you everybody who came and helped,” said the dog’s owner, Tarvan Orsatelli in a video clip. “He lost some weight. He’s been here for a week but he’s pretty good for falling 80 feet and never broke any bones… Thank you everybody. Aloha.”
Orsatelli was able to track Orange down through a GPS tracker after the dog fell. He said the dog has a special place in his heart, along with Williams, and all who rescued the pup.
For five days, Orsatelli, friends and family members lowered food and water into the hole while trying to figure out how to get Orange out. The occasional whimpers or howls from Orange reassured them that he was still alive.
After the Kauai Fire Department determined its 25-foot ladders would not work, DOFAW Kauai Branch Manager Sheri S. Mann and Williams thought about what they could do to help. The vertical, tubular-shaped shaft — located on state land — is believed to be part of an old water irrigation system.
As a botanist, Williams is accustomed to climbing trees and rappelling down sheer cliffs in search of rare plants. So he had no fear of putting on his gear, and lowering himself down the deep shaft. For safety, he carried an air monitoring device, along with a radio to communicate with the team up above.
Within just a few minutes, Williams stepped onto the bottom of the pit and found a pooch that was excited to see him. He bundled Orange into a canvas bag, and the dog was lifted up to safety.
“It was pretty straightforward,” said Williams, who had a big smile after the rescue operation. “He didn’t fight or fuss, he was really happy to see me after the initial shock of someone rappelling down in the hole he’d been in for a week.”