Mastiff mistake may cost owners $1500

By Anna Caldwell

FOR the first time in his life, Diff, the larger-than-life bull mastiff, slept next to his owners' bed on Thursday night - despite the fact he might cost them a $1500 fine.

Diff made national headlines this week after being stranded on Mount Maroon, near Boonah, for three nights on a rocky cliff face.

One of those was spent alone after his owner David Gibson and mate Mark Harrison were rescued a day earlier.

Mr Gibson said yesterday, although he was elated to have his family back together, he was a little embarrassed by all the attention they had received.

"I know an enormous amount of manpower and money went into these rescues and don't for a second think I have taken this for granted," Mr Gibson said.

"I already donate money to the Salvation Army and the State Emergency Services and considering our budget as a family we do donate quite a bit to charities.

"But now I will donate more - I know what heroes these teams are."

Mr Gibson rejected claims yesterday that the RACQ CareFlight helicopter crew was "slack" on Wednesday for taking the two men but tethering Diff to a ledge and abandoning him.

"I was there, and I know they genuinely tried to get Diff," Mr Gibson said.

"I also know I offered to let them take Diff first and leave me, but they wouldn't hear of it, and I understand why.

"Those teams are heroes and I am eternally grateful."

A CareFlight spokesman confirmed the story, saying the team did everything it could.

With dogs banned in national parks, the Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed the Gibsons could face a fine of up to $1500.

Mr Gibson and his wife Anne-Marie agreed they were happy to cop the fine.

"I shouldn't have taken Diff in there, but I didn't realise the rules," Mr Gibson said.

"But I know ignorance is no excuse and that's why we'll cop the fine."

He added that the $1500 was a small price to pay because he believed Diff had saved his life on the mountain.

"It was Diff's bark that the SES heard, so if we hadn't had him we might still be on that mountain," Mr Gibson said.

But he promised Diff would not be a future companion on high-altitude or national park adventures again.

"I have definitely learned my lesson," Mr Gibson said.

Today the Gibsons will resume their camping holiday at Flanagans Reserve, Rathdowney.

As for Diff?

"We love him as much as we always did, but he won't be sleeping next to our bed forever - he's an outdoor type of fellow," Mr Gibson said.

But he might be treated to some more of his favourite food.



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