What began as a nice walk to a waterfall near Grohman Creek on Sunday, turned into a three-and-a-half hour search and rescue mission after a family dog slipped into the rapids.
Jimbo — a 10-year-old Australian Shepherd Cross — had gone out for a walk with owners Sam Baio and Stephanie Legacy and their daughter, niece and nephew.
“We were hiking,” said Baio. “There is a little path to quite a large waterfall that we have access to through some private property over in Grohman Creek where we live.”
The group had stopped to take in the sights when Baio’s niece looked up and said “Omigod, there’s Jimbo.”
“My wife and I both realized the danger he was in at the time,” he said. “We went back up the creek to get a better look and basically there is a rock at the top of this series of waterfalls.
“To get there he would have had to slip into he creek or gone down for a swim or a drink. At that point he’d definitely gone for a swim in the rapids which was just about above a 15 to 20 foot waterfall, which had another 60 foot waterfall below it, which was followed by some serious rapids down below that.”
Legacy and Baio tried to get to Jimbo, but eventually just tried to get him to stay where he was while they contacted 911 who contacted Nelson Search and Rescue.
“It’s a pretty incredible thing that the animal survived,” said Chris Armstrong, who was the site commander on Sunday. “He went down some pretty rocky waterfalls and several small pools. It’s a miracle he’s not dead. He got quite a whooping going down there.”
Search and rescue received the call at 1:40 p.m. and a team of eight search and rescue members responded to the boat access only community.
Legacy attempted to move Jimbo off the rock he was standing on.
“If he had fallen off and gone down the waterfalls it would have gotten really bad, but as it turns out he got tired and tried to swim the water and got swept down the falls. He went down rapids and a set of these massive waterfalls and perched himself on a rock below,” said Baio.
Search and rescue were able to rappel down the vertical overhang to where Jimbo was and both he and the rescuer returned to safety.
“He was in the creek and waterfalls for about three and a half hours,” said Baio. “He made it out completely unscathed except for a tiny little cut on his paw. We got him to town and took him to the vet to make sure he had no water in his lungs, internal damage or broken bones and he was completely fine.”
Armstrong said typically search and rescue does not do animal rescues, but that Nelson Search and Rescue has done a few.
“The main reason we are out there is because we feel personal pets are a priority, but the wording we use is that we want to go out there and do animal rescues so that owners who obviously treat their animals like members of family don’t put themselves in danger to these type of rescues. Typically it’s not something we do, but we do it in the interest of public protection,” he said.
In the 16 years that Armstrong has been with Nelson Search and Rescue, there have been four pet related rescues.
As a sign of their appreciation for saving Jimbo, Baio — who owns Valhalla Pure Outfitters — will be donating a $1,000 gift certificate to Nelson Search and Rescue.