German shepherd survives six days on cliff ledge

— Photo from Facebook
Laurence Wolfe of East Berne is reunited with his German shepherd, Khaos, on Monday afternoon at Thacher Park after the dog was rescued.

HILLTOWNS — An East Berne dog has survived six days of being stranded off the side of a cliff in Thacher Park, after he was lost the morning of July 17. The dog was brought up over the cliff’s edge by a rescue team on Monday afternoon.

Khaos, a 2-year-old, long-haired German shepherd was visiting the overlook at John Boyd Thacher State Park with his owner, part of their daily routine before going to work together, said owner Laurence Wolfe, 57. Khaos broke free from his leash and ran into the woods, he said.

Khaos since he was seven weeks Lake, has cared for WarnersWolfe, a master plumber from old, and said that Khaos accompanies him to all his jobs while he works.

“He works every day with me,” he said. He later noted that his dog seems to make friends with everyone.

“Even people who don’t like Khaos, like Khaos,” he said.

Cheryl Baitsholts, who serves as the dog control officer for the towns of Berne, Knox, and Rensselaerville, said that she received a text immediately from Wolfe about his missing dog. Information about Khaos was shared on social media, she said, and awareness quickly grew.

“We just kept sharing the heck out of it,” she explained.

Wolfe said he spent the six days searching from Khaos from 5 a.m. to midnight. But he shortly wasn’t alone.

“Strangers came out of the woodwork,” he said. People were searching for the dog day and night. Employees of Thacher Park would look for the dog even after their shifts ended, he said.

“They went above and beyond,” said Wolfe, offering special thanks to the park staff. He said the park was also the first to put up flyers and the first to post on Facebook that his dog was missing.

Wolfe also said Baitsholts and Michelle Johnston were responsible for efforts to share information about Khaos in order to find him, and added that a park ranger helped immensely by going door-to-door trying to find his dog.

The social media attention paid off, said Baitsholts. A woman who lived below the overlook saw a post about Khaos on Facebook on Sunday. She had noticed that her dogs seemed to be barking at another dog nearby, and called Wolfe.

Monday morning, her husband and Wolfe set out to find Khaos. When her husband came across Khaos trapped on a ledge, he called the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

Commander Brian Wood, the acting emergency management coordinator, led the rescue efforts. He said that the sheriff’s office received a call around noon on Monday that an elderly man needed help leaving the woods at the base of Thacher Park. Two members of the search-and-rescue team located the man using computer-aided dispatch, using both their cell signal and the man’s to pinpoint the location of the man, who had been helping Wolfe find his dog.

Four other search-and-rescue members descended the cliffs through the Indian Ladder trail at the park to meet the man at his location, said Wood. Drones were also used to find their location, he said.

One member of the search-and-rescue team led the man back to his home, while the other five members were lifted up to the cliff’s edge, said Wood. Khaos was given a police-dog harness to use, as one of the team members is a K-9 handler, he said.

Khaos was located about 30 feet below the cliff’s edge, said Wood, and 40 to 50 feet above ground; to return back would be 300 yards down a 60-percent incline. The reason the dog and the search-and-rescue team ascended the cliff face was that it was easier and less dangerous than descending the slope on foot, he said.

About 20 people from the sheriff’s office, including both police and emergency medical responders, were at the scene, as well as a park police officer and three park rangers, Wood said. He said that the entire effort went well, and that costs weren’t a concern because it happened during normal hours that didn’t require overtime pay.

Wolfe said Khaos was in good spirits after his ascent up the cliff.

“He was playing with everybody, the rescuers; he was awesome,” said Wolfe. In videos of his reunion with Wolfe, the red and black dog is seen wagging his tail and jumping in excitement.

Baitsholts surmises that Khaos fell from the cliff’s edge at the park. Wolfe noted that, during the time his dog was lost, there were two days of storms, as well as two oppressively hot days.

Dr. Roxanne Hammond, the veterinarian who treated Khaos, described his condition as “remarkable.” The dog had a minor cut above his eye, some matting, and had lost 8 pounds — a significant weight loss, but not unexpected after going unfed for six days, she said.

Hammond, who works at the Village Animal Clinic in Voorheesville, said that the staff was informed when they found Khaos and were at the ready for treating him when he arrived. Wolfe said he brought Khaos to the vet immediately after the rescue.

“He was really happy to be back with his owner,” said Hammond. Likewise, she said, Wolfe was “absolutely beaming.”

Wolfe’s plans for Khaos, now? Wolfe said that he is preparing bacon for the dog, to put some weight back on him.


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