As It Happens

'They'd given this dog up for dead': Pooch missing for 2 months found alive deep in Missouri cave

A dog in Missouri who'd been missing since June was discovered deep in a cave. No one knows how she got there, but Gerry Keene helped get her out.

Using a duffel bag, group came up with a quick plan to get the dog out alive

A dog standing in front of a kneeling man.
Abby was rescued from the cave by Gerry Keene and Rick Haley, seen here with Abby. (Submitted by Rick Haley)

A group of people just out for the day exploring caves in Missouri made a stunning discovery deep inside one of the caverns earlier this month.

"We had five children with us," Gerry Keene told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner, and they had run ahead. 

"All of a sudden, the kids are yelling back to their father, 'Hey, Dad, there's a dog here!' And we're like, 'Yeah, no, there's not.'"

But there was. 

Abby, a 13-year-old mixed-breed canine, had disappeared from her home June 9. 

Wide shot of a dog lying in a dark cave.
Abby was found 150 metres down in a Missouri cave, more than 2 months after she disappeared. (Submitted by Gerry Keene)

When Keene and his group found her, they were about 150 metres down in the Berome Moore cave system in Perry County, the darkness broken only by their headlamps. 

"All she could do was lift her head and look at us. She wasn't responding to verbal commands. She wasn't even attempting to get up," said Keene, who helped rescue her. "She was in terrible, terrible shape."

They didn't know if she was hurt, or maybe even rabid, but they knew they needed to try to get her out. 

The group quickly came up with a plan. Gerry would go back and try to find help — and also try to find out whose dog it was. 

Close up of a thin, black and white spotted dog.
Abby had lost half her weight after being missing for 2 months, Keene said. (Submitted by Rick Haley)

He walked back out — about a 20-minute trek — and found a guy named Rick Haley, who had also just resurfaced from the cave. 

"Rick came up with the idea of using a duffel bag with a blanket, and that worked like a charm. It was absolutely perfect," Keene said.

"She actually stood up for us, recognized us and was walking. But of course she wanted to walk deeper into the cave. And it's like, no, the entrance is over here." So, they lay the blanket down over the duffel bag and called her. 

"She just went right on that blanket because it's probably the warmest thing, the driest thing she'd been in for who knows how long. So she was really happy to be laying on the blanket," Keene recalled.

A close up of a man's face beside a dog's face
Abby, seen here with one of her rescuers, Rick Haley, is said to be doing better since her rescue, gaining weight and returning to her old self. (Submitted by Rick Haley)

Meantime, her owner had been located, and he was there when she was carried out. 

"It was really nice because he was very, very thankful, very happy to see the dog, very much talking to us about what had happened," said Keene. "They'd given this dog up for dead. She'd been gone for two months."

No one knows how Abby wound up in the cave — maybe she chased a rabbit in, Keene speculated — or exactly how long she was there. 

Keene says she'd lost about half of her body weight, but is doing better every day now. "[She's] slowly coming back to her good old self," he said. 

As for Keene, he says he's been involved in more than one animal rescue in his life — both another dog and even a cow. But nothing like this. 

"In caving you come prepared for a lot of stuff," he said. "But you don't come prepared to find a dog."

Written by Stephanie Hogan. Interview produced by Chris Trowbridge. 

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