When Jeff Bohnert’s 13-year-old mixed poodle went missing on June 9, he did not expect to find her nearly two months later in Missouri’s second-largest cave system. Deep within the Berome Moore cave, a party of casual cavers discovered his beloved pet, Abby. Rick Haley, an experienced caver, claims that she could have spent months alone underground and “was skin and bones” when they found her. The poor elderly woman, covered in mud and curled into a ball, could scarcely lift her head.
Haley and Gerry Keene were part of a team of roughly thirty individuals who mapped the cave for the Cave Research Foundation (CRF). When Keene spotted Abby approximately 500 feet below ground, he immediately snapped a photo and exited the complex cave system to seek assistance. He notified other CRF members, including Haley, and contacted Assistant Fire Chief Rob Calhoun, who went door-to-door in the hopes that someone might recognize her.
Haley writes, “I’ve rescued dogs from caverns previously, but they weren’t there for long and could be walked out.” He grabbed an empty duffel bag and lined it with a soft blanket, knowing he needed to devise a method to safely remove her. When the two cavers rediscovered her, she astonished them by entering the bag on her own. Given that the dog had been in a cave that was “quite wet” and “around 58 degrees,” it’s hardly surprising that she sought out any comfort she could. Abby appeared peaceful and almost slept off in the sack as they secured her safety for the ride back to the surface.
Above ground, Calhoun was sharing the vision with neighbors by knocking on their doors. Someone eventually recognized her and sent the search team to Bohnert, who stated that it was “surprising when we began to hear reports of a dog in the cave that began to match Abby’s description.” When he saw the photo Keene had taken, he said, “Oh my gosh, that’s Abby. How is this even possible? How is she still alive?
While Bohnert was making his way to the spot, Haley and Keene navigated their dog’s duffel bag through the complex, narrow cave system. Each time they crawled in front of the other, they reached behind to grab Abby. After more than an hour, the trio emerged from the darkness, with Bohnert awaiting her. After such a lengthy spell in the dark, the puppy’s pupils required some time to acclimate to the light. As soon as they hit the ground, Abby was examined for injuries. Fortunately, she was deemed fit to return home with her human.
How the elderly woman made it so far into the cave is unknown. Haley returned to the location a few days later and discovered the dog’s paw prints near the entryway she most likely fell through — a 12-foot-deep pit. He believes that she may have been pursuing a tiny animal and that severe rainfall may have flooded the pit, both of which might have driven Abby farther into the system. Undoubtedly, it is a miracle that these cavers discovered her. Haley recounts, “I was one of the few persons on the surface at the moment the rescue needed to occur.” “Had all 30 of those cavers been present, you would have found 30 individuals aiding in this rescue.”
Abby’s family is now nursing her back to health. Bohnert states that she is barking again, despite the fact that “it’s a miniature horse… She presumably barked a great deal to grab someone’s attention down there.” Haley also observed her barking when he saw her a week later, saying, “I believe she’s regaining her composure now.”
You may read Haley’s firsthand account of the rescue mission in a brief FB post.