Dog Survives 400-Foot Fall from Cliff

Never doubt the unconditional love of doggie parents for an injured canine.

Roxanne Peggie and Barry Blyther, natives of Scotland, took their German Pointer, Rover, and English Pointer, Rudy, on vacation to Northern Ireland last week.  At a Limavady rest stop they let the pups exit their automobile. Rudy was able to stop when she reached the overlook and realized the extent of the drop.  Rover was not as quick to gage the danger.  He free-fell about 250 feet (76 meters) and landed on a small ledge by his front paws and face, but could not hang on.

Shock and Disbelief

When Peggie ran to the wall she made it in time to watch helplessly as Rover fell another 150 feet (46 meters) landing on rocks and bramble.  When asked her reaction when she realized Rover bounded over the wall, Peggie replied: “This is indescribable… we didn’t realise the gravity of the situation until we got to the wall and looked over only to see Rover’s head and front paws on a narrow ledge and the rest of him hanging over. He instantly lost his grip, and fell out of sight.”

She went on to tell me “Our instant reaction was to assume him dead and frankly, we began to mourn. He couldn’t survive! I expected to recover a corpse.” 

Peggie later discovered that two weeks earlier two Labradors had done the same thing in the same spot. Both died instantly.  Peggie told me there are no warning signs posted at the Benevenagh scenic mountain viewpoint.

When the couple realized Rover was still alive, they called police for assistance but were told, as no human was injured, they would not provide any help.  Peggie tells me this is not usual in the UK.  They know of many police and rescue teams who have assisted with animal emergencies.  “We just seemed to hit a less than animal-compassionate officer!” reports Peggie.

The Rescue

Despite a recent shoulder surgery that was still healing, Blyther went into auto pilot mode and descended the rough terrain to reach Rover.  It took him 40 minutes.  Rover was in such pain his screams were “blood curdling” and he could not be moved.  It took Blyther more than another hour to climb back, all the while devising the best plan for fabricating a stretcher to carry Rover out of his hilly prison.

By the time they got everything they needed for a rescue attempt, it was nearly five hours since Rover’s fall.  They made a stretcher out of two coats, a vacuum cleaner tube and some twine.  Of course, at 9:00 p.m., they also needed torches to light their way.  It took five people another few hours, working together, to rescue Rover from the rocks.

A Limavedy veterinarian examined Rover, treated him for shock with fluids and provided pain relief.  Peggie and Blyther were delighted to be informed the next day Rover had no internal injuries or broken bones other than a vertebral injury.  He was released to the couple and they traveled back to Scotland and to their personal veterinarian for follow up care.

Despite the lack of cooperation from police at the fall site, Peggie reports everyone else they came into contact with were considerate and cooperative in helping Rover get the care he so desperately needed.  The ferry boat line even held the ship for an hour so the family could board as soon as they reached the ship line.

Medical Care

Once back home, Dr. Lawrie — Rover’s personal veterinarian — diagnosed a second vertebral injury that was more serious than the first.  It was actually crushed and putting pressure on Rover’s spinal cord causing paralysis.  Rover was referred to Glasglow University Veterinary Hospital — a state of the art facility. 

Doctors there informed Peggie and Blyther they had two choices.  Opt for a delicate and expensive surgery or put Rover to sleep.  Veterinary care is estimated to cost between £8,500 and £12,000 (about $13,000 – $19,000), a very steep amount — no pun intended.

After all they went through to save their beloved dog; Peggie and Blyther were devastated to discover Rover’s life depended on whether or not they could come up with that amount of money.  Putting pride aside, they created a Facebook account for Rover and asked for donations.

The Price of Love and Determination

As of today, thanks to the generosity of strangers, they have managed to raise half of the amount required, £6,000.  The hospital has agreed to start the MRI guided procedure tomorrow.  Veterinarians at Glasglow University Veterinary Hospital say the success rate of this specific surgical procedure is 93% and they fully expect Rover to walk out of the hospital in about one week!

A remarkable story of a resilient rascal of a dog! 


Picture of Rover in better days courtesy of Roxanne Peggie.


Alda Borror
Alda Borror5 years ago

never let your animal friends go out somewhere before you! you are their only savior!

Alda Borror
Alda Borror5 years ago

never let your animal friends go out somewhere before you! you are their only savior!

kimberly m.
Kim Mathews5 years ago

RIP Rover. Humanely euthanized January 7th

Athena C.
Athena C.5 years ago

I love this story. I actually gave some money to help Rover. How is his progress now?

anne r.
Tom R.5 years ago

There is no price to pay for the unconditional love of your pet - the community was able to help toward costs which says a lot of their love to help an injured animal as well. Sadly, many are not able to afford such care unless a rescue steps in to help if they can so many must be euthanized because of this. He is ONE lucky dog and it matters in his life to such committed owners. Cautionary care though for any age or size breed should always be taken when allowed to be Off Leash.

Alessandra C.

I'm happy about the happy ending. But what about urging authorities to put warning in that very point of the road and put some fences too? What are thet waiting for? For some other deaths?

Fred V.
Fred V.5 years ago

Common sense must enter into the situation. Risk your life in this case yes. But I was driving at highway speed and a black lab darted in front of my car. I had a daughter along beside me. Swerve and lose control of the car? I don't think so! Slam on the brake with a carload of people behind me? Not a good idea. So each situation must be weighed. People's lives first, and then an animals.

Colin D.
Colin Denchfield5 years ago

The barbiturates bit was meant tongue in cheek, Lee. Ofcourse, noone's gonna happen to have a syringe full of poison in their pocket - it was an ironic comment. Anyway, the intimation was that I would've put the dog out of his misery if I could...which, ofcourse I couldn't.

Lee M.
Lee M.5 years ago

I have put myself in danger by "liberating" dogs that have been in deplorable situations and "officials" would not help. So to do it for one of my own pets is a given - YES. FENCES should be erected to prevent this in the future. Also, shame on the officials for not helping. However, I'm confused by Colin D's comment when he said the owner should have "put the dog out of his misery" and hopefully the owner would have had a "letal does of barbituates in his pocket" before going to the rescue of his pet....indicating that ALL animal owners should carry needles with a deadly substance for this kind of eventuality????

Colin D.
Colin Denchfield5 years ago

I would certainly risk my life to save that of an animal (human included), whether it be a pet or wild animal - I think it's just part of being a decent, compassionate human being.

Having found the dog in that condition, however I would've reacted differently to Roxanne and Barry - I would have put him out of his misery right there and then (hopefully, having had the thought to take a fatal dose of barbiturates with me before going down the cliff edge). And the reason is this: every single day, in this country a couple of thousand dogs are put to sleep because homes cannot be found for them - many of whom are young, healthy dogs. Rover had already had some life. Surely it makes more sense to put a severely injured animal to sleep and give another animal a home - an animal that hasn't even had any life - than to prolong the agony of an animal in the hopes that it'll pull through.