Clifftop rescue saves cattle dog
LUCY the cattle dog was probably a day from death when two Marburg SES volunteers staged a dramatic rescue.
Weather-beaten and wasting away from the ravages of a paralysis tick, the teenage runaway was perched high on a cliff beside the Brisbane River when she was finally dragged to safety a month after a violent storm frightened her out of her paddock at Anstead, in Brisbane's bushy southwest.
An SES volunteer for 17 years, Pam Smith then gave Lucy a loving home for another month until her owners were found.
Shane Eather and Ms Smith - both experienced animal rescuers from the Marburg SES - and an RSPCA employee set out in a boat from Cribb Park on North Ipswich late on the afternoon of September 29, working their way downstream to the Anstead Reserve area in about 50 minutes.
They were responding to reports that Karalee residents had been using canoes to paddle across the river to feed a stranded dog.
These good samaritans had been tossing morsels at the mysterius mutt for about a fortnight, thinking it would eventually move on.
But it took a hazardous cliffside rescue by Mr Eather to get the startled dog down. "She was about 20m up from the water's edge and about 10m down from the top of the cliff - on a tiny ledge," Mr Eather said.
"She had obviously fallen down to that level at some point."
After scaling the cliff and securing a lead around Lucy's neck, Mr Eather managed to coax the dog into following him back down the steep bank.
"She was actually in much better physical shape then we thought she'd be," he said.
But Lucy's condition deteriorated after her rescue.
She almost died as a result of a tick dug in near her head and she developed kennel cough. She recovered but still faced being put down in the absence of a suitable home.
It was at this point that Ms Smith decided to adopt Lucy.
"I couldn't bear the thought of seeing her put down after all she'd been though," Ms Smith said.
It wasn't until this week that Lucy's owners finally discovered the dog they'd given up for dead was still alive and well.
Russell Bowles said he and wife Pam had covered kilometres of bushland and distributed hundreds of flyers in their desperate attempts to find Lucy.
"We'd basically given up on her," Mr Bowles said. "With the number of ticks in the area we'd assumed the worst had come.
"It is just amazing that people like Pam would go to that much effort to save our dog."
Mr and Mrs Bowles will be reunited with Lucy and meet her rescuers this week.