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‘She just went flying’; Dog rescued from 80-foot cliff just south of Honolii

Firefighters plucked a pooch from a precarious perch Monday morning after the dog spotted a mongoose, bolted after it — and disappeared over a cliff just south of Honolii Beach Park.

Kathy Sams Buono works at Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary and is the foster mother of Sherry, a 6-year-old, 65-pound pit bull and yellow Labrador mix female. Buono and her husband, Art, were walking their canines along Kahoa Street on Hilo’s northern outskirts when Sherry slipped her leash.

“My husband had a hold of Sherry and another dog — and a bag of poop,” Buono said. “And she saw this mongoose and just bolted, just jerked the leash right out of my husband’s hand. There’s all of this foliage there and she just went flying. … We couldn’t hear her barking or whining, so we didn’t know where she was. And we couldn’t see if she had fallen all the way down the cliff.

“Well, we were devastated because you try to keep a dog on the leash. … And my husband just felt terrible because he was the one holding her.”

A neighbor’s pool guy had a better viewing angle and spied Sherry on a ledge about halfway down the 80-foot cliff, so a call was made to the Hawaii Fire Department at 9:43 a.m. A five-man rescue crew from Waiakea Fire Station arrived about 11 minutes later, according to a written statement from the department.

“The guys got here and they were all dog lovers,” Buono said.

After assessing the situation, the rescue crew rigged a rope system and lowered a rescue specialist over the cliff. The firefighter snagged Sherry and attached a rope to her chest harness. The other crew members then raised man and mutt safely to higher ground.

“We were afraid that when somebody was going down there she didn’t know, she’d just jump off,” Buono said. “But when they went down they were able to grab her, probably because she knew she had no place else to move. Because she sat there for about an hour.

“We just felt so relieved when they came back up.”

As for Sherry?

“She didn’t act like anything was wrong. She was like, ‘It was a nice view when I was down there.’”

The Buonos have fostered Sherry about two months. Buono said Sherry’s original owner gave her away as a puppy, but after the second owner died, not long ago, Sherry chewed her way out of her restraints and showed up at the doorstep of her puppyhood home, about three blocks away.

There, she was mauled by another dog in residence that took offense to her presence. That’s when Rainbow Friends was called.

“I took her to the vet — it was like a $550 bill — and got her sewed up. And I’ve been fostering her ever since,” Buono said.

Sherry is available for adoption to the right individual or family seeking a forever dog, though the Buonos will keep Sherry if the right home can’t be found.

“She is very friendly. She’s housebroken. She loves playing with other dogs,” Buono said. “When she meets somebody new, she starts barking and she’s on the defensive. But once she gets to know them, after about half an hour or so when they’re nice to her, then she’s good with them.”

A large, fenced yard is a must, Buono said.

“She likes to go on walks but she does need a fenced yard because she’ll, like, wander off.”

Sherry is just one of many adoptable pets at Rainbow Friends, a nonprofit no-kill shelter in Kurtistown.

“We have 65 dogs and 370 cats … so there’s always plenty of animals to adopt. And we can always use donations and volunteers,” Buono said.

Interested individuals can contact Rainbow Friends at 982-5110 or

And, as Buono witnessed Monday, the shelter isn’t the only organization performing animal rescues.

“We sent an email to the Fire Department and the mayor saying just what a great job they did,” she said. “We’re lucky to have these guys who risk their lives every day. People don’t always appreciate it, but they were there when we needed them.”

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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