Tryon Fire Department rescues hound dog stuck in tunnel

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, December 25, 2014

by Leah Justice

Gowensville, S.C. resident John Metcalf said if it weren’t for Town of Tryon crews, his dog, Harley would have died on Sunday morning, Dec. 21.

Metcalf was coon hunting Saturday night in the Screven Road area of Tryon when Harley ran after a racoon. Metcalf has a tracking device on his dog, so found the area, but couldn’t get to her. She went into a hole that ended in a tunnel and couldn’t get turned around. The dog became stuck around 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 20.

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Metcalf stayed until around 1 a.m. and came back later with tools to try to get her out to no avail. He remembered he had seen on the news in recent years where the Tryon Fire Department had rescued another dog, so knocked on a familiar door to see if they could get the fire department there quickly.

“She would’ve died if it weren’t for the town,” Metcalf said. “I went and got Tank’s (Waters’) mom out of bed at like 7 a.m.”

Waters volunteers at the Tryon Fire Department.

Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis said early in the morning Metcalf was hunting in the area of 868 Screven Road, across from the intersection of Clarence Rhodes Road.

The fire department responded at 8:23 a.m. Sunday.

Davis said Metcalf found the hole his dog had entered and could occasionally hear her bark. The fire department’s assumption is that the dog got in a hole and got wedged in and couldn’t get out.

Tryon fire requested assistance from Columbus Fire Department and Tryon Public Works with the Tryon Police Department also assisting.

The rescue involved both digging with a backhoe by Gary Walker and hand digging, according to Davis.

“We actually stopped digging around 11 a.m. and were assessing the situation when the dog began to bark a lot,” Davis said, “and we realized we were pretty close.”

The backhoe was over the dog and Walker didn’t want to risk collapse or cutting off the dog’s air supply in the tunnel so crews used a probe from Tommy Stott’s truck used to look for meters and got the dog to kick the probe, Davis said.

Harley ended up being about three feet underground, but the rescue was slow because of the risk of compromising the tunnels beneath them, according to Davis.

The dog emerged after careful hand digging and appeared to be in good health, besides being exhausted. Harley was rescued at 11:21 a.m. after being trapped in the tunnel for more than 12 hours.

“Obviously at times the fire department is called for a variety of assistance calls,” Davis said. “The successful rescue of Mr. Metcalf’s dog illustrates not only the training of our personnel but the great working relationship we have with other agencies. It is nothing short of a great incident here at Christmas to reunite an owner and his dog. It made all of our holidays much brighter.”

Metcalf said the town crews, naming Walker with the backhoe specifically, were amazing.

“There are not too many good people left in this world but I found out the other day there are some,” Metalf said. Metcalf said at one time they were about ready to quit, but the crew kept working and finally found her and got her out.

“It was unreal,” said Metcalf.

Metcalf said just the night before he was coon hunting in a different area when people ran him off, but the homeowners involved Sunday morning were more than welcoming to help. Metcalf said the homeowners let crews cut trees on their property to rescue his dog, saying the homeowners were the best, nicest people.

“How many people are going to let you cut trees on their property?” he asked.

Metcalf hasn’t owned Harley long and had purchased her on a trial basis. He had until Friday, Dec. 26 to decide if he wanted to keep the dog or not.

“She’s mine now,” Metcalf said. “That’s just too big of a sign that I need to keep her.”