East Hawaii News

HVNP: Dog Rescued from 20-Foot-Deep Earth Crack

October 5, 2015, 2:44 PM HST
* Updated October 5, 2:45 PM
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A four-and-a-half-year-old chocolate brown Labrador retriever, Romeo, was rescued on Sunday, Oct. 4 from a 20-foot-deep earth crack at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Park officials say the owner of the dog was walking Romeo and another dog off leash near the Volcano golf course and the park boundary when they ran off into a heavily vegetated area.

Romeo did not return from the vegetation with the other dog.

The owner searched into the night but did not find Romeo. Upon arriving in the morning to continue searching, the owner heard a faint whining coming from deep within an earth crack and called for help.

Park rangers responded to the call and assessed the situation before calling in an experienced search-and-rescue team.


Ranger Arnold Nakata was lowered 20 feet into the narrow crack using high-angle technical rope rescue techniques, where he found Romeo in good condition.


Romeo was harnessed and the topside rescue team slowly pulled the pair out of the ground. After being lifted from the ground, park officials say Romeo gave the rescuers “lots of dog kisses.”

“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.

HVNP personnel say that the park would not generally use technical rescue for animals.


Dogs, along with other pets, are not allowed in many parts of the park for safety reasons and for the protection of threatened and endangered species.

Within the park, authorized service animals are permitted, but may be prohibited from certain areas if their presence is detrimental to park management programs, like nēnē recovery.

Dogs are required to be on a leash in the park at all times, as hikers have been reportedly bitten by off-leash dogs along park trails, and in other situations, pets have fallen into earth cracks and steam vents and did not survive the incidents.


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