Thor was an Akbash, a breed of dog from Turkey known for their roles as livestock guardians or shepherds. - Courtesy of Tanya Lynch

Thor was an Akbash, a breed of dog from Turkey known for their roles as livestock guardians or shepherds. - Courtesy of Tanya Lynch

Vancouver Island family thanks rescue crews after ‘Thor’ attacked by bear

Dog was badly hurt and trapped at bottom of a 200-foot ravine

A Vancouver Island family is expressing its gratitude to search and rescue personnel after a daring late-night rescue of the family’s dog, Thor, who had been badly injured by a bear and was stuck at the bottom of a 200-foot ravine.

The Lynch family, who lives in the Qualicum Bay/Dashwood area, called Arrowsmith SAR after finding their 125-pound dog at the bottom of a ravine on their property several weeks ago.

When Thor didn’t show up for dinner, they knew something was wrong. Tanya Lynch followed her intuition down into the ravine where they found the dog badly injured from a bear attack. Both Tanya and her husband tried to bring Thor back home themselves, but they had to stop when Thor ended up biting her husband out of fear.

Lynch was at a loss for what to do when she thought to call Arrowsmith SAR. It was sometime between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. when she made the call.

READ MORE: Arrowsmith SAR members honoured for rescue

The team arrived within 15 minutes. They assessed the area and determined that they would need to call in the rope rescue team from Comox Search and Rescue. In the middle of the night, the team showed up within half an hour of the call, according to Lynch.

She struggled to put into words how it felt to have such a prompt reply to her call for help.

“They were so dedicated, and so respectful… I can’t say enough good things,” said Lynch.

According to Nick Rivers, president and search manager for Arrowsmith SAR, it was about 4 a.m. by the time the teams finally got Thor up and back together with his owners.

Once the crews made it down to the bottom, they stabilized Thor and brought down a stretcher. The rope team then set up, went down the embankment, and brought Thor out to the top.

“It was pretty complex because we had very challenging anchors where we anchor the rope system to at the top of the hill… so it took a little while to get everything going,” said Rivers.

Rivers says that Search and Rescue groups can respond to animal calls, but they won’t be reimbursed for any fuel, food or damaged gear the way they do when rescuing humans, although they are still covered by WorkSafe BC.

“Animal rescue is a Good Samaritan act,” said Rivers.

Rivers estimates that all members involved in the rescue were home by approximately 5:30 a.m. He noted that most of the members had to get up for work shortly afterwards.

The Arrowsmith squad, like most SAR teams, is entirely made up of volunteers.

Lynch says she believes that SAR teams need more recognition for the work they do.

“We really think that they need to be acknowledged. Because they’re just like everyday people – they’re like us – they’re on call, and they come and save people’s lives – they’re everyday heroes,” said Lynch.

Rivers says that what SAR teams consider normal can be quite overwhelming and impressive for viewers.

“What we do in SAR is a little bit out of the normal for most people. For us, it can feel very normal to hook up to a bunch of ropes and rappel down a 200-foot embankment,” said Rivers.

“I think it’s very shocking and impressive to people when they see the operation really come together, and how much goes into it. And how much SAR members really care. They bring all their passion and enthusiasm with them. And everyone really stepped up to the plate that night to do everything they could to help Thor. It was a really great experience.”

Unfortunately, due to the shoulder injury Thor sustained from the bear attack, he had to be put down the next day.

“He ended up crushing his shoulder. He would have had to have an amputation. Because he was such an active, running, working dog, we didn’t think that at 11 he would be able to deal with the amputation,” said Lynch.

Thor was an Akbash, a type of dog often used as a livestock guardian or shepherd dog. He was one of several guard dogs on the Lynch’s acreage.

Lynch says she is so grateful to the Arrowsmith SAR for ensuring Thor didn’t die stranded in the ravine.

“It’s bittersweet. The thing is, he didn’t die a horrible death in the ravine. Because of them, he was returned up. We have two children, they got to sit with him in the morning. It was a sweet goodbye, but it could have been really horrible if they hadn’t have showed up and saved him.”

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colin J.D. Crooks has published his debut novel, a fantasy titled “The Shards of Etherious: Arisen.” (headshot photo courtesy Joslyn Kilborn Photography)
Cumberland author delves into fantasy world with debut novel

The Shards of Etherious: Arisen is the first book of a five-book series

Cathy Browne is very proud of her new front door. All the new doors are lovely and create an individual look for each room. Photo submitted
Courtenay’s Glacier View Lodge dressing up its doorways for residents

Glacier View Lodge’s vision of ‘feels like home’ has been enhanced this… Continue reading

Ginette Matthews shows off some of the wares at The Local Refillery. Photo by Femke Overmaat
Pandemic meant going digital quickly for Courtenay’s Local Refillery

Owner Ginette Matthews says system keep business open in its early months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
Comox Valley RCMP asking public to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read