February 6, 1995 in Nation/World

`I Said Sit; She Jumped’ Hundreds Gather As Rescuers Collar Dog That Miraculously Survived Fall

Kim Barker Staff Writer
 

Bailey may be heading for obedience school.

Tim and Lisa Devaney called to their dog Sunday afternoon as they looked over a concrete retaining wall at the Spokane River, just northeast of the Monroe Street Bridge.

“I said `sit’ and she jumped,” Tim Devaney said. “I don’t know how she survived so far.”

Bailey, a yellow-Labrador, Australian-shepherd mix, tumbled about 60 feet and landed on the narrow, rocky bank, barely missing the frothing river.

After learning Bailey survived, the Devaneys flagged down a cyclist in Veterans Park and used his cellular phone to call the Fire Department about 12:30 p.m.

Firefighters debated the dangers of sending someone down the cliff after Bailey.

“There was a serious question as to whether somebody would get hurt,” Capt. Bob Ebbighausen said.

As her future was being decided, Bailey curled up at the bottom of the cliff while the water lapped at her paws.

The Devaneys worried about the delay. Tim Devaney ran up the street to Recreational Equipment Inc. and asked if anyone could help. Two rock climbers said they would climb down the face.

But they weren’t needed because the fire department decided the rescue was reasonably safe.

Greg Haff, one of nine Spokane firefighters trained in high- and low-angle rescue last summer, volunteered to climb down the cliff and grab the dog. Firefighter Brian Faulkner directed the climb.

The Fire Department’s boat and the sheriff’s dive team waited downstream in case the river swept away rescuers or Bailey.

If the power generator for the Washington Water Power Co. dam had clicked off for any reason, the river would have risen in about eight seconds and engulfed both the dog and anyone else on the riverbank.

Hundreds of spectators lined the Monroe Street Bridge and the south side of the river.

Some spectators clicked cameras. Others shot videotape. One little boy cried and repeated “doggy” through his sobs.

“We’ll see what happens,” said Celeste Fellman, who watched Bailey from the Monroe Street Bridge. “This is a lot of excitement over one canine. Though it sure says something for Spokane.”

Haff, holding an orange rope, rappelled down the face. He climbed over the bushes jutting out from the wall and knocked rocks into the river.

When Haff reached the bank, Bailey ran to him.

Haff struggled to open a net that had been thrown down on another rope, but the net was too tangled to hold Bailey. Haff harnessed the dog around Bailey’s chest and legs. He tied Bailey to his belt and began climbing.

On top, other firefighters pulled on the rope, anchored by a tree. Haff and Bailey poked their heads above the edge about 2:45 p.m.

“She was more scared than I was,” said Haff, as a firefighter wiped at the scratches on his face.

Bailey wagged her tail and wiggled her way over to the Devaneys, who bent down and kissed her on the head.

“We owe you dinner and a couple of beers,” Tim Devaney said to Haff.

Bailey suffered only a scratch above her eye.

Others haven’t fared so well. A man and a woman fell from the same spot in June 1976. The couple had been walking along a path near the edge of the cliff.

“Both died,” said Battalion Chief Dick Schuerman. “The dog is lucky - very lucky.”

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