Tennessee crew enters deep cave to rescue dog, find bear in their path

Charlie was trapped in the cave, and rescuers had to wait until a bear exited the area.

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee crew attempting to rescue a dog trapped in a deep cave had to alter their plans when they encountered a snoozing bear in their path. The dog was rescued, but it took some time.

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According to a Facebook post by the Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the hunting dog, named Charlie, spent three days in an “extremely narrow cave shaft” about 40 feet underground on English Mountain, located in Sevier County in eastern Tennessee.

Crews from three fire departments and a rescue squad came to the cave on Tuesday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Firefighter Tori Downing and Capt. Jon Lanier of the Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department descended into the cave but were stopped cold when Downing found a 200-pound bear sleeping 5 feet below her, according to the Facebook post.

The team was forced to exit the cave and set up trail cameras to monitor the area, hoping that the bear would eventually leave the area, WATE-TV reported.

By Wednesday the bear had left the area, allowing crews to access the cave and rescue Charlie, according to the News Sentinel.

“At first, we actually thought the dog had slipped further into the cave where we couldn’t access,” Lanier told WVLT-TV. “It was kinda sad because we felt like we were gonna have to leave the dog there.”

“As we’re about to head back out, I looked back one more time and I saw his antenna from his tracker collar,” another firefighter, Christian Ellard, told the television station.

Crews “fashioned a harness for the dog and effected the rescue,” the fire department wrote on Facebook. “Charlie was quickly reunited with his happy owner.”

“There he is, come on big guy!” one man can be heard in a video posted by the fire department. “Come on, buddy.”

“Central command,” someone can be heard hailing on a radio. “The dog’s been extricated.”

Charlie was dehydrated and hungry, but in “otherwise good condition,” the post read.

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