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Local

Firefighters make 'outstanding' dog rescue at Starved Rock

Utica firefighter JR Swietek (left) and Wenona firefighter Rob Matthews walk alongside Prudence after rescuing the Border Collie after a fall in Sac Canyon in Starved Rock State Park.
Utica firefighter JR Swietek (left) and Wenona firefighter Rob Matthews walk alongside Prudence after rescuing the Border Collie after a fall in Sac Canyon in Starved Rock State Park.

Utica firefighters are used to rescuing people who have fallen while hiking off trails at Starved Rock State Park; however, dogs are a different matter.

Which is why they needed to create a new harness on the fly.

The Utica Fire Department was dispatched at 8:50 a.m. Saturday for a report of a dog that had fallen from a bluff in Starved Rock State Park. Firefighters arrived on scene to find a Border Collie named Prudence scared and in need of help.

Conservation Police Sgt. Phil Wire said the dog fell about 30 feet into Sac Canyon and landed on a small shelf about 50 feet above the canyon floor. Wire also said the bottom of the canyon is not an easily accessible location for a rescue attempt.

Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown said firefighters tried to rappel down to Prudence and were able to slowly walk down the tiered canyon to get to the dog’s location. The space was only large enough for two firefighters and the dog.

Wire said he could tell the dog was nervous to see the firefighters coming closer, but they quickly earned Prudence’s trust.

Brown said it wasn’t too difficult.

“We brought him some dog treats and eventually he warmed up to us,” Brown said.

Because the usual harnesses are made for humans with two legs, the firefighters had to make two additional loops out of webbing, as well as a small basket. A firefighter rappelled with Prudence down to the ground. The dog did not appear to suffer any injuries.

Prudence was reunited with owner Adriana Underwood, 21, of Tulsa, Okla. Underwood was issued a $195 citation for having a dog off the leash.

Wire said the firefighters did an “outstanding job” in getting to the dog in a tricky location, making the harness and getting him lowered to the ground.

Brown said it’s not their first dog rescue – the last was on Halloween – but Prudence was in a trickier spot.

They also have rescued other animals in the past.

“When people don’t know who to call, they call the fire department,” Brown said.

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