Several ropes, raincoats, heavy-duty work boots, harnesses and around a dozen animal lovers worked together to facilitate a rescue in a 40-foot-deep Goose Creek mine shaft.
Letcher County Sheriff’s Department, Police Rangers, Emergency Management, along with Pine Mountain Search & Rescue and off-duty volunteers from the Pike County Animal Shelter came together on the evening of Sept. 7 and attempted to save two dogs who had been swallowed by the earth.
“The dogs are in a crevice thirty to forty feet under the ground, they have been in there several days, weak and malnourished and we are concerned about their well being,” said Eugene Slone, Deputy Chief of the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department.
After about twenty minutes, the volunteers had the pups in their owners loving arms.
“I have two sons and these dogs mean the world to them,” said Jessica Johnson, the pet mom of the two hounds.
She said she and her husband were “worried sick” about Sissy and Ginger, who she referred to as members of the family.
Johnson said the dogs had been missing since Aug. 26, but they discovered them inside the shaft while searching on Sept. 6.
“We were beginning to lose hope,” Johnson said after the rescue.
County officials said that they were glad to come and make the rescue possible.
“Being able to get down there and get them, get them back out and see the grin on the faces of the owners, that's what it's all about,” said Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward.
Johnson said she and her husband are going to keep the 1-year-old girls inside for a while.
“They are not going hunting for a long time,” said Johnson with a chuckle.
“I am gonna get them back to health and take them to the vet tomorrow.”
Johnson said Sissy was around 6 weeks pregnant and she hopes everything is alright with the expected litter. Both dogs had lost a significant amount of weight and came up shaking, but ready to give kisses to Johnson and the rescue team. Ward said he was amazed at the animals’ demeanor upon getting out of the shaft.
“They were pretty weak,” said Ward.
“When they come out they was glad to see somebody!”
Johnson said she believes this act was a reflection of the character of the people around her.
“It just goes to show with our community and you know other communities everybody wanted to lend a helping hand,” Johnson said.
“All of these people have been at work all day and they came together to help in the rescue efforts,” she added.
Johnson said her sons, 10-year-old Kannan and 5-year-old Kolby will be “ecstatic” to have their companions back.
She said she was incredibly thankful for all of the support.
“I was overwhelmed with joy,” said Johnson, referring to the moment when the dogs were pulled up. Johnson said she wanted to send out a special thanks to everyone who came in their free time to bring their “best friends” back home.