A sole charge constable helped rescue a beloved family pet from a cliff ledge and reunite him with his family in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Sole Charge Constable Andy O’Sullivan from Kotemaori near Wairoa (pictured below right), was working a double shift on Saturday 18 February, a few days after the cyclone hit the region, when he heard that pet dog Zeus (aka Fatboy) had gone missing after the storm.
Zeus' family had been looking for him for some time and were really worried. Eventually they put up a drone and found him stuck on a cliff high above the Mohaka River.
They called into the police station to see Andy and asked for help. Andy had helped with a few dog rescues before (helping free trapped hunting dogs), and as an experienced abseiler and trained arborist initially worked alone to rescue the stuck dog.
“I climbed down to where I could safely, but I had no way to anchor my abseiling rope," he says. "The rope just wasn’t long enough to attach to roadside trees or barriers, and I was worried if the river levels grew again, Zeus would be swept away.
"I made a call to the Tree Control guys who were in the region to see if they would assist."
Rob Duytshoff and his team from Tree Control tree care services were working to help clear the debris from the cyclone for the Wairoa District council. It was dark, nearly 8.30pm and they had clocked off for the day, but Rob and his team jumped at the chance to rescue Zeus and mobilised immediately to assist.
“I drove past the Hawkins farm with the Tree Control truck behind me, I flashed the patrol lights and turned the sirens on to let the whānau know we were ready to help rescue Zeus, and they followed us down to the cliff face," says Andy.
Rob’s team rigged up their safety gear and team member Billy Carter abseiled down the steep hillside over the cliff into a 90-metre ravine. Within 40 minutes, Zeus was off the cliff in Billy’s arms.
Zeus was passed to Constable Andy and it was then that he realised where Zeus got his Fatboy nickname from!
Andy carried the frightened dog back up to his whānau on the hillside who were waiting excitedly to see him and were very relieved and grateful to Police and Tree Control for their help.
They headed home to get Zeus checked out by a vet after his ordeal and we understand he's now back to his usual self.