WO Seeley gets ready to swim with the dog to safety. At first the dog swam away from him, but eventually John lured the dog back to him. He spent 40 minutes speaking to the dog, or as he says "we had a good chat".
South Africans and people throughout the world were gripped by an on-going rescue saga after a dog was spotted swimming in water at the bottom of Kimberley’s famous Big Hole in the Northern Cape.
“The dog who miraculously survived after it fell the equivalent of 50 storeys down the Big Hole in Kimberley, and then managed to stay alive without food for eight days, was finally brought to the surface after a 15-hour rescue mission at the weekend,” reported the Star newspaper this morning.
Warrant Officer John Seeley of the K9 Unit in Kimberley spoke to Organisational Communication, Head Office this morning to tell about this amazing rescue.
WO Seeley, a search and rescue handler, received a call at about 08:00 on Friday morning, 22 November 2013, advising that a dog was stuck in the Big Hole. His entire team responded immediately and at about 09:30 descended into the hole for the first time. There are two levels in the descent into the Big Hole and they descended to level one to look for an anchor point from which to launch the rescue mission. At 18:00 they had to postpone the rescue mission until Saturday morning due to failing light. “You can’t carry out a rescue mission in the dark,” said Seeley. Seeley spent the night planning and researching because his team was determined to rescue the dog on Saturday.
At 07:00 Saturday morning the rescue mission resumed and, miraculously, an ideal anchor spot was found. “It looked like it had been specially cleaned for the rescue, it was amazing,” advises Seeley.
With the assistance of De Beers, using their winch and cable, WO Seeley descended the first 80 metres, made anchor points and then descended down into the water in the hole and swam to the ledge where the dog periodically rested between swimming around looking for a way out of the hole.
At first the dog swam away from him, but eventually John lured the dog back to him. He spent 40 minutes speaking to the dog, or as he says “we had a good chat”. She eventually accepted him and allowed him to put his own police dog’s life jacket and harness on her. “When you first put the life jacket and harness on the dog, it usually goes crazy. But she just accepted it immediately,” said the warrant officer. She started swimming with him but after 5 metres just lay still resting against his hip and allowed him to swim with her. “It’s an amazing story”, says John.
The two were pulled to the surface at about 12:15.
Breaking news: WO Seeley says that he is the only person who the dog wants to accept and he is fetching her from the vet today and taking her to her new home, his own house. Yes, John is adopting the underdog, as she was dubbed by the media. He is going to call her Kimberley and she will have a home with his three other dogs and three cats.
Seeley joined the police in 1992 with the intention of becoming a dog handler. His dream was realised in 1993 when he joined the K9 Unit and in 2008 he specialised in search and rescue. There are only three search and rescue police dogs in the Northern Cape and they are extremely busy. They retrieve survivors and bodies from land and water.
Warrant Officer Seeley is overwhelmed by the publicity this rescue has attracted, not only in South Africa but worldwide. He is glad that people are getting to see the good work done by SAPS members, including those in the K9 Unit.
We wish John and Kimberley all the best and hope that they have a long and loving time together! Salute, Warrant Officer Seeley, you most definitely are our police hero of the moment!
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