A dog is lucky to be alive after plunging over the lower falls at Gold Creek on Wednesday.
Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue got the call at 4:11 p.m. and raced to Golden Ears Provincial Park.
There they discovered the yellow Labrador retriever named Rex on a ledge at the bottom of a steep embankment.
It is unclear how the dog initially got into the water, said fire chief Howard Exner. However, he said, what was clear was that the dog and his owners went across the fence into the danger area above the falls.
The elderly dog could have died, Exner added. The fall is about 10 to 12 metres.
“This is the same place that caused the death of many, many people,” he said, adding one of their own members broke his leg during a training exercise a couple of weeks ago in the exact same place.
This is the second rescue this year at the falls. In April they had to rescue a person.
“It’s not a forgiving area,” noted the fire chief.
Once in the park, firefighters used a Polaris all-terrain to get to the scene.
Then they had to use two technical rescue disciplines to rescue Rex – a high angle rope rescue and a swift water rescue.
First rescuers used the rope to get down the embankment. Members in the water put a personal flotation device on Rex, who had to get into the turbulent water again before firefighters could get him to where he needed to be for the vertical portion of the rescue.
The PFD also worked as a harness, noted Exner.
The whole operation took about two hours and 20 minutes. From the time of the call to the completion of the rescue was about an hour and a half, said Exner.
The fire chief wants visitors to Golden Ears park to understand that while it is located close to Vancouver, “it is back country”.
“There’s no cell service there. It takes a long time for help to arrive out there. And we need to treat it as such – that it’s wild country,” he said.
Although Rex’s owners did the right thing by calling for help, once the dog was in the water, Exner noted, people have to be more cautious.
“There are fences up in the area to keep people out of danger. There’s signage up to keep people out of danger and people need to read those signs and abide by the signs to stay safe, because it’s a long way for help to come,” he said.
Dogs should be on leashes, Exner continued. Dogs, he noted, are very “notional”, all they need to do is smell something and they are gone.
“The best trained dogs don’t behave 100 per cent of the time.”
Exner welcomes people to enjoy themselves in Golden Ears park, he is simply asking visitors to be careful.
“There are some times when we can’t change the outcome, and it’s not a happy one.”
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