Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 24, 2017

State Parks Press Office:
Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

State Park Police Use High Tech Drone and Old-Fashioned Rappelling Skills to Rescue Dog From Letchworth Gorge

Using classic rope rescue skills and an Unmanned Aircraft System, highly trained New York State Park police rescued a lost dog who was trapped about half-way down the 400-foot Letchworth State Park gorge Monday afternoon . Following reports about a dog barking and possibly stuck in the gorge area of Hogsback Overlook, Sgt. Ryan Clancy was lowered about 200 feet to save the missing pet.

The rescue took place in an area where the gorge is extremely steep and wooded for approximately 200 feet before it transitions to a sheer vertical shale wall several hundred feet to the bottom. The area is too steep to climb back up, and has a sheer vertical drop below. Since it was not reachable from the river bottom, lowering a rescuer down and performing a "pick off" was the only option.

The dog was also not visible; police could only hear his barks. So Park Police coordinated with the Livingston County Sheriff's Office to use the UAS - also known as a drone - in attempt to pinpoint the dog's location and identify its size, so it could be placed in the correct size rescue harness. Ultimately, the forest canopy was too dense to find the dog, so Sgt. Clancy was lowered down and successfully hauled back up with 'Skippy' in tow. Skippy, who had gone missing in the park two days earlier, was returned to his owner with only minor cuts and scratches.

State Park Police hone unique skills to help keep the state park system safe. State Park Police in the Genesee region currently have nine members in certified in Rope rescue up to the Technician level 1 through New York State Office of Fire Control. Technician level 1 is the recognized standard for Rope rescue training in New York. Including the prerequisite courses to enter Tech 1, (Basic Rescue Training and Operator level) each officer has 112 hours of training invested to achieve the certification.

"This rescue is an important reminder of the selflessness, dedication and teamwork of the men and women charged with keeping New Yorkers and those who visit our great state park system safe," State Park Police Chief David Page said. "Whether it's the people who visit State Parks or their beloved family pets, these civil servants train hard and risk their lives to help others and serve New York."