North Whidbey firefighters rescue dogs from West Beach bluff

Two very lucky pooches are alive and well this week thanks to the efforts of persistent firefighters.

According to Mike Brown, deputy chief of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, the dogs were rescued Sunday afternoon about 150 feet down an approximately 500-foot bluff along West Beach Road.

Brown said it’s unclear how the canine duo, described as large lab mixes, ended up on the cliff face, but emergency responders from the fire district and Navy Region Northwest Fire and Emergency Services spent several hours retrieving them.

“It was a process,” Brown said.

The first firefighters arrived on the scene at about 4:30 p.m., but it was 7 p.m. before the dogs were safe on the landing above.

These can be complex and difficult rescues and setting everything up safely can be time consuming, he said.

Cliff rescues involving dogs can be especially tricky. For example, Brown said the dogs’ owner was present and warned firefighters that one of them was a rescue pooch and might be a little nervous.

It turned out, however, that he was the more cooperative of the two.

“The dog ran up to the rescuer and said, ‘Save me,’” Brown said with a chuckle.

The other “nice” dog proved more skittish and made its feelings clear about being hoisted up the cliff.

Brown said Navy Capt. Tony Merrill, the only firefighter to go over the edge, had his hands full wrangling the reluctant animal.

The event had a happy ending, however. Both dogs were reunited with their owner.

Brown said it is another good example of a local fire district partnering with the Navy to achieve a positive result.

The rescue area, a vacant lot just north of West Even Down, is the site of former military gun emplacements and is sometimes visited by sightseers.

Just this past February, a 19-year-old man was rescued from the same location after he lost his footing and fell down the cliff.


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