A paw-some effort from firies ensures Rusty is safe and sound after falling in hole

Lottie Twyford 16 August 2021
Firefighter Adrianne Roper, Rusty the dog, and Melissa Hay at construction site

From left: Firefighter Adrianne Roper, a sheepish Rusty the red heeler, and his grateful owner, Melissa Hay. Photo: ACT Emergency Services Agency.

Thanks to the efforts of firefighters from ACT Fire & Rescue, Rusty the red heeler was safely wrenched back up to ground level after he found himself in a tight situation at the bottom of a three-metre hole in his back garden.

Looking a little sheepish after his wild adventure, 13-year-old Rusty was none the worse for wear, and no humans or animals sustained any injuries during the rescue.

Unlike many rescues, this one didn’t require any fancy equipment. Instead, it was simple people power that saw Rusty brought back to safety.

It was one of the ACT Emergency Service Agency’s newest recruits, Adrianne Roper, who went into the hole first to retrieve the dog after his unfortunate mishap. She was lowered into the hole while being held by her ankles by some of her colleagues.


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Rusty’s owner, Melissa Hay, explains she’s in the process of having an inground pool installed in her backyard so the area currently resembles a construction site.

But on Tuesday, 10 August, things took a turn for the worse when the site was left unattended during the workers’ lunch break.

“Everyone had come in for lunch and they’d just left the hole covered up,” says Melissa. “It was probably about three-feet deep.”

Unfortunately for explorer Rusty, who Melissa thinks may be on the way to losing his eyesight, covering up the hole was not enough to quell his curiosity so he went to investigate what was going on and found himself jammed in the hole.

At 25kg, old Rusty is definitely a big boy, and Melissa says it looked as though he’d managed to get himself wedged in the hole upside down.

“The way he was sitting up in the hole really made it look like he’d fallen in backwards or something, but we aren’t sure,” she says.

Despite Rusty’s ordeal – Melissa thinks he possibly could have been in the hole for up to two hours – he was all safe and well after his adventure.

She says all the firies involved are very brave, and particularly thanks Adrianne who had to go down the narrow hole.

As shown in the video above, it took Adrianne a couple of goes before she could actually grab a hold of Rusty and pull him out of the hole.

Melissa says that on the first try, Rusty probably didn’t know what was happening, but when Adrianne went down for the second time, the dog reached up and tried to grab on.

Luckily for everyone, the firies were able to complete the rescue in great time, and Rusty was only left a little dusty after his mishap.

Melissa extends a big thank you to the entire ACT Emergency Services Agency crew who helped during her and Rusty’s hour of need.

In a life-threatening emergency, you should call emergency triple zero (000) for police, fire or ambulance. For non-emergency fire and rescue, call 02 6205 2927.


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