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Rescue team goes to the dog

Andy Buelna brings up a dog he rescued from a mine shaft. (Amy Lindblom/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
Andy Buelna brings up a dog he rescued from a mine shaft. (Amy Lindblom/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).


If not for efforts yesterday by several good Samaritans, an abandoned 60-foot mine shaft could have been a 5-month old dog's grave.

How the pup fell into the shaft near Sonora's Masonic Cemetery and how long she had been down there is unknown.

But thanks to a PG&E lineman, several determined Sonora police officers, two miners and a Yosemite climbing guide, the pooch is back on solid ground.

The gradual ending to the dog's dilemma began when lineman Kirk Dickerson happened to be walking up a rugged hill about 1 p.m., checking power lines. He heard just one bark, but it clearly came from the bottom of the old gold mine shaft.

A call to Sonora Police to alert them to the dog's predicament brought Tuolumne County Animal Control Officer Char Logan to the shaft on a steep, poison-oak-covered hillside just south of Morning Star Drive above the cemetery.

Logan never heard the dog herself, and neither she nor Dickerson ever saw the dog. But Dickerson convinced Logan there was no question the bark came from 60 feet down.

From the shaft opening, he and Logan, and most likely the dog, could hear children at Sonora Elementary School on the other side of a ravine.

"It was a heck of a hike up there the first time we went," Logan said.

She would make many more treks up and down the hillside before the dog was brought up five hours later.

Logan first brought a Sonora Fire Department crew up. They lowered food and water to the bottom of the shaft, but couldn't help further because they didn't have the gear to go down the shaft.

Sonora Police dispatcher Gaile Long and Sgt. Glenn Roberts called Tuolumne County Search and Rescue, but its members concentrate their efforts on humans, not animals.

Undaunted, Roberts and Long called around to mining companies to see if a miner could help. They also called Sierra Nevada Adventure Company in Sonora.

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