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Courageous B.C. canine survives seven days stuck on ledge after fall from cliff

Luna reunited with her owner following a harrowing rescue
Luna, a five-year-old bull mastiff-golden retriever cross, survived seven days trapped on a narrow ledge high above the waters of Finlayson Arm. (Courtesy Saryta Schaerer)

A courageous canine that went missing in the Highlands area of Greater Victoria was found seven days later clinging to a narrow ledge, high above the waters of Finlayson Arm.

Luna, a five-year-old bull mastiff-golden retriever cross, was reunited with her owner last month after a group of volunteers who refused to give up the search carried out a harrowing rescue.

While it remains unknown how Luna ended up in her dire predicament, it’s believed she had chased an animal out of her yard and gotten lost before somehow falling off a cliff and landing on a thin ledge where she became trapped.

“Whatever she was chasing, she must’ve slipped and just fell down an embankment and landed there,” Saryta Schaerer, Luna’s owner, told Black Press Media.

After Schaerer had been out searching for Luna for five days to no avail, a critical breakthrough came from the other side of Finlayson Arm.

Just across the water at his Langford residence, Ron Cheeke had heard Luna. Sensing something uneasy about the barking he listened to over the course of several days, he decided to record the sound and notify the pet rescue group Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing (ROAM).

“I would hear barking start consistently at 6 a.m. in the morning, and then when it got dark, it would stop,” he said. “Wherever it was, the dog was clearly in distress.”

Cheeke, who lost his own dog last year, even searched the area by boat while banging on an aluminum pot to pinpoint the precise source of what he described as increasingly exhausted and desperate cries for help.

While Cheeke took to the water, Schaerer and a group of ROAM volunteers searched land, but to no avail on their first day. With night setting in, searching would have to wait until the following day.

“That was heartbreaking,” Schaerer said. “It didn’t matter if it was Luna or not, we just knew there was a dog out there now.”

To her relief, the team of volunteers found Luna the next day and hoisted her back up to safety with a harness.

“When she came up I got so excited that I almost tripped and landed on my face. Luna was so happy to see me and I was very happy to see her. You know, they become part of your family,” she said.

ROAM volunteer Leslie Steeves credits the whole group, as well as Luna’s incredible resiliency, for a remarkable rescue.

“It’s never just one thing, it’s always the puzzle pieces that come together,” Steeves said. “It’s a collective thing and it works – it’s sharing information, getting the word out, getting feet on the ground, everything.”

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Austin Westphal

About the Author: Austin Westphal

Austin Westphal is the newest member to join the Saanich News team.
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