As a certified arborist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Adam Williams is accustomed to climbing trees and down cliffs in search of rare plants.
Thursday morning, Williams was enlisted to rappel into an 81-foot deep, dark, dank hole, in the Koloa section of the state’s Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve to rescue a hunting dog named Orange.
The one-year-old Catahoula fell into the pit Saturday. Fortunately, his owner, Tarvan Orsatelli, had a GPS tracker on Orange, and was able to locate him quickly.
Over five days Orsatelli, friends and family members lowered food and water into the hole, while trying to figure out how to extract him. They knew Orange was alive due to the occasional whimpers or howls they’d hear from him.
It’s believed the vertical, tubular-shaped cavern is part of an old water-irrigation system. Initially the Kauai Fire Department was called to help, but with ladders only 25-feet long that rescue plan was quickly scrapped.
This is when Williams and his boss, DOFAW Kauai Branch Manager Sheri S. Mann, entered the picture. Since the hole is on DOFAW land, Mann and her team began thinking about what they could do to help.
Thursday morning after Mann and Williams surveyed the scene, it was decided it would be safe to send Williams, an experienced climber, into the hole to rescue Orange.
With a half dozen people watching from above, Williams rigged his climbing gear, tied off to a stout guava tree and began lowering himself down. For safety, he carried a radio and air-monitoring device to the bottom with him.
Within a few minutes Williams stepped onto the bottom and found an excited pooch.
“He was really happy to see me after he got over the shock of being down in a hole for a week,” he said.
Williams bundled Orange into a small canvas bag and a couple of men up top began slowly pulling him to safety. Williams said he could see him kicking the sides of the duffel but, once on top, Orange quickly exited the bag, shook himself off and seemed a little perplexed by the small crowd on hand to witness his return to terra firma.
Orsatelli says Orange has a few scrapes, clearly lost some weight during his ordeal, but was not much worse for the wear after tumbling into the shaft.
Animal control officer Kawehi Harris of the Kauai Humane Society was on hand to take Orange in to be checked by a veterinarian.
Orsatelli says Orange is shaping up to be one of his best hunting dogs and now he has a special place in his heart for him — along with Williams and the others who helped in this rescue of a little dog.