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Dog Rescued from Earth Crack in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

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NPS Photo/Park Ranger Arnold Nakata and rescued dog, Romeo. Photo credit: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

NPS Photo/Park Ranger Arnold Nakata and rescued dog, Romeo. Photo credit: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Search-and-rescue rangers safely extracted a pet dog from a 20-foot-deep crack in the earth at the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawai‘i on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015.

Park officials say the owner was walking her two pet dogs off leash near the Volcano golf course and the park boundary when the dogs ran off into a heavily vegetated area.

One dog came back, but Romeo, a 4 ½-year-old chocolate brown Labrador retriever, did not return, according to park staff.


Authorities say the owner searched into the night but could not locate him.

When the owner returned to the area in the morning, she heard a faint whining coming from deep within an earth crack, and called for help.

Park rangers responded to the call, assessed the situation and determined that a safe extraction could be accomplished.


Park officials say that Ranger Arnold Nakata used high-angle technical rope rescue techniques and was lowered 20-feet into the narrow crack where he found Romeo in good condition.  Nakata rigged Romeo with a harness while a topside rescue team slowly pulled them out from the crack.

“A grateful Romeo bestowed his rescuers with lots of dog kisses,” rangers said in a press release.

Park officials say that they would not typically use technical rescue for animals. “Dogs and other pets are not allowed in many areas of the national park for safety reasons, and for the protection of threatened and endangered species,” officials said.


Rangers reminded the public that all pets and service dogs must be leashed in the park at all times. The park service reports that hikers have reported being bitten by dogs off leash on park trails in the past, and other pets have fallen into earth cracks and steam vents and have not survived.

“We are glad that this rescue had a happy ending, because our pets are like family. The best way to protect them is not expose them unnecessarily to potentially hazardous areas that are prevalent in a national park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

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