In an effort that took more than nine hours to execute, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue recovered Keda Holland from a rocky cliff in Moran State Park. Miraculously, crews also discovered her lost dog Bowser during the process.
“The whole thing was incredible,” said Holland, a Seattle resident. “Everybody was amazing. Everybody was so nice and so helpful.”
On Oct. 4, Holland was searching off of Summit Trail for Bowser, who had been missing near Mountain Lake since Oct. 1, when she climbed down a rock face and became stuck. She was able to call for help with her cellphone at around 9:30 a.m.
“I called the state parks for help and they called the fire department,” said Holland. “They all went looking for me.”
A team of 12 OIFR responders, three park employees and one deputy gathered at 10 a.m. to look for her near the Northwest corner of Mountain Lake. The rescue crew was able to track the cellphone to that general location. Holland said she was yelling for help, and at 11:40 a.m., the crew made vocal contact with her. It took another hour and a half before they made visual contact.
Rescue units were positioned both above and below Holland. Rescuers rappelled down to where she was, then chose to lower her to safety instead of bringing her back up.
“I was just kind of getting out of the way – and then I saw my dog,” said Holland, who found Browser laying on the ground near the base of the cliff.
Bowser, a four-year-old rescue mixed breed, had several deep wounds to his lower body and was dehydrated. Holland said it appeared he had been in the same general area since he had gone missing. The rescue crew constructed a makeshift stretcher with sticks, a blanket and some climbing ropes for the severely injured 75-pound dog, and carried him more than a mile to the trailhead.
Holland and the crew were met by veterinarian Dr. Swaran Dhaliwal, who took Bowser to her office in Eastsound to stabilize him before sending him to a veterinarian specialist in Seattle. Holland says he has a shattered shoulder on a front leg, a broken hind leg, a dislocated hip and air in his chest.
“He’s not really out of the woods yet. It’s so nice to have him and know what happened to him,” said Holland. “So far it’s looking pretty positive – he’ll be a happy three-legged dog.”
Holland escaped the situation uninjured and said she is thankful for everyone who helped rescue her and Bowser. Island residents spent hours searching in the park in the days after he became lost, and monitored each other’s progress on the Facebook page Friends of Orcas Pet Search and Rescue.
“We were just amazed at the island’s ability to come together and work on something,” she said.