Man documents daring rescue of puppy from slot canyon


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A puppy rescued from the bowels of a deep slot canyon is now recovering in Salt Lake City after a close brush with death.

The man who rescued him documented much of the incredible story with his own video camera.

Imagine trying to get a dog that's near death out of a deep canyon, all by yourself -- and at the same time, getting yourself out by rope.

On top of that, imagine shooting video much of the time.

That's the story we have to tell.

They don't know his real name, so they just call him Puppy. He's now a temporary shop-dog at The Wrench-It Center, owned by Zak & Michelle Anderegg.

"He was completely starved," Zak Anderegg said. "He was, my best guess, 24 to 48 hours from being dead."

That was last week in a slot canyon near the Utah-Arizona border. It's so deep and narrow and twisted, some sections are dark in the middle of the day.

Sometimes by flashlight, Zak was rappelling and climbing deep. He suddenly saw a dog, starving, dehydrated.

"I cannot believe I found this guy down in this frickin' pothole in this canyon," he said.

He climbed out to get water. On the way back down he wondered how the puppy got there.

"The rim of the canyon is 350 feet above us, so falling from the rim would have killed him," Zak said. "Every single time I work it through my head, I come up with the same answer: someone put him there" -- left, abandoned.

He climbed out again and drove to Page, Ariz., to recruit a rescue team.

"They told me flat-out, 'We're certainly not going to send out the fire department or the sheriff's department to help you.' So I said, 'All right, I'll manage on my own.'"

The next morning he was back with a cat carrier and a plan, using ropes in a one-man rescue operation.

"I took risks," Zak said. "But none above what I do anyway."

He rigged up a system to attach the cat carrier to his ropes and stabilize it. Then he climbed back out.

The Page Animal Hospital saved Puppy's life. Most of the costs were covered by the hospital's Angel Fund.

"The rate of improvement is just incredible," Zak said. "I'd say within two weeks he'll be at his weight."

Michelle and Zak still haven't decided whether to keep him, since they're already a pet-heavy family.

They welcome inquiries from qualified people who can give him a good home, and they're encouraging contributions to the Angel Fund for future emergencies.

Anyone interested in adopting Puppy can reach Zak at zak@wrench-it.com.

E-mail: hollenhorst@ksl.com


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John Hollenhorst

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