Centre Wellington Fire & Rescue were on scene in the Elora Gorge Conservation Area on Sunday morning for a rope rescue operation after reports that a dog had fallen into the natural feature.
With crews from both the Elora and Fergus stations responding, Deputy Chief for the service Jonathan Karn said the outcome for the pet was ‘not positive’, as he spoke to the incident and the sort of safety precautions to keep in mind when visiting the popular attraction.
According to Karn, that dog fell roughly 60 feet to an area not accessible from the top of the gorge. Karn adds that, unfortunately, Centre Wellington Fire & Rescue respond to a number of calls for animals falling into the gorge every year, and that crews provide the rope rescue service to offer some closure, in addition to ensuring that owners don’t attempt to retrieve the animal themselves by climbing down or scaling the cliffs.
Karn said that dog was retrieved and then released back to the owners.
“Any time we have a technical rescue whether it be a rope rescue, fire rescue or ice rescue, that immediately sends out a response to both our Elora and Fergus station – so we had firefighters from both Fergus and Elora respond to that.”
When asked for any advice for those looking to visit Elora Gorge with the summer-like weather rolling in, Karn emphasized the importance of staying on trail, not crossing over established barriers and keeping any animals on leash – adding that the park is “not an off-leash park by any means.”
“The trails are marked – and it’s a fine line between having a nice trail that takes advantage of nature and the scenery of the gorge versus putting up large fences and not having people be able to enjoy that area,” said Karn. “The majority of our responses involve people who have crossed a barrier wanting that extra look over the edge, and they’re just in an area they shouldn’t be.”
Karn said the incident appears to be the result of an unleashed animal, adding that he can “only speculate” based on the area in which the dog fell, noting that this particular response was “not an out of boundary situation.”
“We have a lot of tourists that come into our area unfamiliar with the trails and unfortunately, we end up doing [these types of responses] several times a year,” said Karn. “Tourists are starting to arrive with COVID numbers coming down, so I would expect we’ll see an increase in calls.”