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  Animal Rescue High Drama on Richmond Cliff
February 2, 2011

When the most dramatic thing in Richmond is an animal rescue, it’s a good day.

We have three goats and two sheep in our yard to keep down the brush on a steep hillside that backs up to Nichol Knob in the Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline. There is a wildfire in the area almost every summer, and the animals have proven to be an excellent fire prevention plan. More than one grassfire has stopped at our fence line when otherwise headed towards homes in the neighborhood.

Every now and then a dog gets into the pasture, and in the past this has sometimes resulted in tragedy for the grazing animals.

Yesterday was a different story. A very young dog, almost a puppy, got inside the fence and apparently chased one sheep out of the pasture and over a nearby cliff. A firefighter came by my office and alerted me about 4:00 PM. I went home and by the time I got to the cliff area, the Richmond Fire Department was already on station, along with Animal Control, two news helicopters and assorted bystanders.

The dog and sheep, who were shortly before chaser and chasee, found themselves reluctant buddies stranded a few feet apart on a ledge. The chase was over for the dog, and fear had set in for both anaimals. If it had been a goat, it would have been a different story. A cliff to a goat is like a briar patch to a rabbit. Sheep are not as sure footed and not nearly as smart.

A women who knew the dog’s owner made a rescue attempt, but had to stop only a few feet away due to the steepness of the terrain.

I had to leave for the City Council meeting at 6:00 PM, when firefighters were just beginning to rappel down the cliff. I was able to watch the final rescue at about 7:30 from my monitor at the City Council dais.

Thank you Richmond Fire Department for delivering all animals home safely.

For video, see:



Below- Peter Pan safe at home this morning with his friend Tinker Bell

Photo one
Dog, Sheep Rescued From 150-Foot Cliff In Point Richmond

Posted: 10:52 pm PST February 1, 2011
POINT RICHMOND, Calif. -- Firefighters battled steep terrain, loose rocks and boulders Tuesday night in a dramatic high-angle rescue of... Sparkle and Peter Pan, a black lab and a sheep that had become stranded on a 150-foot cliff in Point Richmond, a battalion chief said.

Sparkle, the black lab, apparently chased Peter Pan about halfway down a 300-foot cliff behind a water treatment plant in the 1600 block of Canal Boulevard, Battalion Chief Merlin Turner said.
The fire department was called out at about 4 p.m. and spent several hours rescuing the animals with an elaborate high-angle rope rig, he said.

"It took a while to make sure we could safely get them down," Turner said. "We brought the dog down first, then the sheep. The sheep was really skittish, but we were able to get both of them."
Fire personnel first hiked up the cliff to see if they could herd the animals down the side, Turner said. Once it was clear that wasn't an option, the crew had to make sure it could facilitate a safe rescue.

"I didn't want to risk any of our lives," Turner said. "A lot of it was finding anchor points -- a spot to lock the ropes in."

Once the rescue system was in place, the animals were loaded into harnesses and lowered down the cliff face.

Turner said steep-angle animal rescues are "very uncommon."

"I was nervous," he said. "There were crowds, a lot of people. We didn't want to be unsuccessful."

The animals were tired, he said, and crews had to work slowly and carefully because it's never clear if animals are going to cooperate or not.

"People are easier than animals," Turner said. "They're more predictable. You can talk to them."

He said Tuesday's effort was worth it, though, when the animals were reunited with their owners, including a little girl.

About 12 people participated in the rescue, Turner said. Among them were three engines, two rescue units, animal control officers, and police officers who kept spectators from interfering.
A vet was also standing by throughout the recovery.
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