Firefighters rescue dog from tree in Beaufort National Cemetery

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 9, 2012 

In a twist to the usual story, two Beaufort firefighters helped rescue a pet stuck up in a tree early Monday morning.

But this time it wasn't a cat that was out on a limb at Beaufort National Cemetery.

"They got there, and this was a little dachshund. In a tree. Just sitting up there on a branch," Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department spokesman John Robinson said. "So Ross Vezin got a ladder and leaned it up the tree, and the dog started licking him in the face and came on down.

"That will be a first in Beaufort County that I know of -- rescuing a dog from a tree."

It was a triumphant end to a stressful night for owner Mimi Austin and her friends, who spent hours searching for Cappy, a long-haired rescued dachshund who disappeared at about 6 p.m.

Neighbor Kim Bonturi saw her friend's plea for help at about 12:30 a.m. when she logged onto Facebook.

"I have four dogs of my own, and I wouldn't have been able to sleep if that was me," she said.

Bonturi, a friend and a golden retriever set off to help Austin look. They went straight to the cemetery, which is close to Austin's house.

Flashlights in hand, the women searched until they thought they heard barking in the back of the cemetery.

"We rushed to where we thought we heard it, and we traced it to this big oak tree with major brush around it," she said. "Once we got to the tree, the barking stopped."

Austin was on her porch and came rushing over at the familiar sound of Cappy's bark. Thinking her dog was caught in the brush, she started cutting some of it away with clippers.

The women started getting frustrated with searching in the dark, when two Beaufort police officers stopped by to see what three women, a dog and a car were doing in the rear of the cemetery, Bonturi said. One officer shone his light up in the tree and spotted the dog.

The dachshund had climbed up 12 feet in the tree, out of reach of the women and officers even with Bonturi's eight-foot ladder.

The women had to wait about 45 minutes until firefighters Vezin and David Evans, who had been out on a medical call, arrived with a ladder.

"She was just happy to be in her mom's arms," Bonturi said of the dachshund.

Cappy seemed to be fine, Robinson said.

The dog lapped up an entire bowl of water when she got home, said Bonturi, who works with Chain Free Beaufort, a nonprofit dedicated to helping animals.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime rescue," she said.

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