Animal Control Officer Rappels 100 Feet to Rescue Puppy in Pauma Valley

The 10-week-old female puppy’s cries could be heard coming from the ravine in Pauma Valley

A puppy rescued by a San Diego animal control officer earlier this month after falling 100 feet down a ravine now has a forever home with a Southern California family.

The San Diego County Department of Animal Services said Friday that

The 10-week-old German shepherd puppy was recently adopted by veterinarian Annie Blea, of Los Angeles County, and her husband and her two daughters, Faith and Abby.

Blea said that when she heard the pup’s story of survival, she knew there was something really special about the dog – and the officer who helped rescue the pup.

“We saw the story on her and there was just something about her. She called out to me a little bit,” said Blea to Animal Services. "She’s just very special – she had a look about her and the way she acted for a puppy that had been on the side of a cliff? I thought she was amazing."

Earlier this month, harness in tow, an officer with San Diego County’s Department of Animal Services rappelled 100 feet down a ravine to rescue a stray puppy that had tumbled in rough terrain in Pauma Valley.

According to Animal Services, Officer Denise Gove was called to the area about 65 miles northeast of downtown San Diego to help safely pull a small, 10-week-old German shepherd up from the rocky ravine. Gove is a member of the San Diego County Animal Response Team (SDCART), made up of trained volunteers and Animal Control officers. 

When Animal Services received the emergency call about the puppy stranded down the ravine, Gove told colleagues she had been trained in rappelling and wanted to help with the rescue.

When Gove arrived at the ravine, she could hear the puppy’s whimpers coming from below. The bottom of the ravine was about 200 feet down.

Animal Services said the puppy had dropped about 100 feet down, where a large bush broke the animal’s fall. She was clinging to the bush.

According to Animal Services, if that bush hadn't been there, the puppy likely would not have survived the drop all the way to the bottom of the ravine.

Little by little, Gove rappelled toward the pup. Animal Services said the rescue was difficult due to the steep incline of the rocky ravine.

“[The puppy] clung onto that bush until Officer Gove dropped from the sky to rescue,” explained Lt. Loren Bunnell, who took the original emergency call from dispatch for the rescue.

Bunnell said the photos of the tense moments of the rappelling rescue depict the “enormity of the situation” and how Gove ultimately got the job done.

Following the rescue, Animal Services said the puppy was doing just fine. The dog was considered a stray and was taken to the County’s Northern Region shelter in Carlsbad on Palomar Airport Road.

The puppy became available for adoption a few days later.

Blea was among those who applied to adopt the puppy from the shelter in Carlsbad. Ultimately, the Blea family was chosen as the perfect match to give the pup a forever home.

Fittingly, the puppy has been named Millie, short for “milagro,” which means miracle in Spanish.

Blea said Millie is a great addition to her family and is getting along with the family’s others pets, a dog and cat. Abby and Faith have been very attentive to their new adopted pet, too.

“They’re thrilled – just over the moon. It’s their first puppy!” Blea told Animal Services.

“I feel very lucky they picked us,” Blea added, speaking about adoption process at the Carlsbad shelter.

More families will have a chance to adopt a pet Saturday at NBC’s nationwide Clear the Shelters adoption drive, which will help pets in need across the county find permanent homes.

In San Diego, 13 local shelters will participate in Saturday’s event, waiving or discounting adoption fees to help more pets secure forever homes.

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