The call came in a couple of hours before dark. We sent out a call to our volunteers and also a request for assistance from Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR) since we we had some safety concerns about the possibility of water involved and because much of our technical team was occupied elsewhere.
By the time we all assembled, it was dark. The Cedar Ponds area, where Youngs Creek is located, has trails that follow the river. In some cases, the drop offs are inches from the path. Doing this in the dark was a concern, since a misstep could be tragic and scene management would be important.
The teams set up at the point where Bella’s family had seen her fall. A twin tension system was set up and two attendants harnessed and roped up in preparation to go over the edge and down to the dog. Because it was dark, we couldn’t see her though she’d been heard.
The plan was for the attendants to go down on their own and have the litter on standby at the top in case it was needed due to injuries or other safety issues.
The attendants, one from WASART and one from SCVSAR, were ready to go. The rigging lead called for quiet and all white lights off to preserve night vision.
The two attendants lowered slowly down. Since it was dark and they could only see what was in the scope of their headlamps, they were extra cautious about the terrain they descended.
They could also look down and see Bella at this point, looking up at them.
They reached the bottom of the cliff and made friends with Bella. As the rope team on top switched over to a raise system, the attendants fitted Bella with a muzzle and lift harness. She was alert but not active and the attendants had to work the harness under her as she lay still.
Once she was harnessed up she was attached to a rope. This was the real safety for her, in case she squirmed on the way up. Otherwise she’d ride in the attendant’s arms.
The three made their way up on the raise. At the top, another WASART member was in place to help transition Bella to flat ground while SCVSAR members helped the attendants the rest of the way up. Bella was quiet and seemed most comfortable on her left side.
The attendant who had held Bella on the way up is a veterinarian. He had given her a quick look at the base of the cliff, but now had a chance to examine her a bit more closely.
She showed a reaction from her hind area where she seemed to have some pain. She was also unwilling to stand and would not be able to walk the 1/4 mile out to the road and her family, so we placed her in the nearby litter, strapped her in, and carried her out.
Back at the road, Bella was unstrapped, picked up, and placed in her family’s awaiting car. She already had set a navigation app for a local emergency vet clinic and headed out as soon as we took her muzzle off and said good bye and best wishes to the family.
We heard the next morning that Bella had a broken pelvis but no other injuries and is expected to recover.
All responders were home safely by 2 am.
Another big thanks to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, SCVSAR, and Everett Mountain Rescue who also participated. This is the fifth rescue of this sort we’ve had in Snohomish County in the month of July. Without their assistance, the stories we’ve been telling you would have been way different and we are grateful for their trust and partnership.
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