Skye, a golden retriever, after being rescued from a sinkhole on Wednesday. Ryan Mccaughey Photo provided
Skye, a golden retriever, after being rescued from a sinkhole on Wednesday. Ryan Mccaughey Photo provided

State College

Missing dog rescued from sinkhole

By Shawn Annarelli

February 17, 2016 01:02 PM

Some tales do have happy endings.

Skye, a golden retriever, was reunited with her owners Wednesday after spending two days in a 14-foot sinkhole at The Arboretum at Penn State.

During Monday night’s snowstorm, Megan Holmes took what was supposed to be a routine walk through The Arboretum with Skye, a neighbor and their dog. The dogs were let off leash, and Skye seemed to have vanished.

“We understand we were in the wrong to let her off leash,” Ron Holmes said. “She’s so good about staying close, and all of a sudden she was gone.”

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The family began to look for Skye and learned Tuesday there are occasionally sinkholes filled in at The Arboretum. Ron Holmes found one near where Skye went missing Tuesday night.

Oh, it’s the most fantastic feeling hearing her.

Ron Holmes

“I got as close as I could, yelled down and couldn’t hear anything because of the gushing water,” he said. “I thought that could explain how she disappeared.”

They returned Wednesday morning.

The gushing water had stopped and Skye’s bark greeted them when they called for her.

“Oh, it’s the most fantastic feeling hearing her,” Ron Holmes said. “I was so sick last night thinking she was gone. I thought she would have drowned if she was somewhere down there or suffered hypothermia.”

Skye, given some help by Alpha Fire Company and Penn State police, was rescued.

Centre Region Council of Governments Fire Director Steve Bair said campus police brought large mats to stabilize the area.

The sinkhole was about 18 inches in diameter and dropped into what was about a “ Volkswagen buggy-sized hole,” according to Bair. Firefighters opened the hole to about 30 inches in diameter and settled on an innovative approach to rescue Skye.

“On the fly we constructed a harness for the dog,” Bair, who is an admitted dog person, said. He said Skye “was a very nice dog ... (and) was in good shape, which was helpful for the rescue. (She) kind of sensed what was happening and was very cooperative.”

Alpha Fire Company Assistant Chief of Training and Operations Dennis Harris climbed down the sinkhole with a ladder and hooked up Skye to harness to be lifted.

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The family took Skye to the veterinarian after they were reunited.

“She’s doing fine, and the vet said she’s in good shape,” Ron Holmes said. “ I really appreciate efforts of the Alpha Fire Company and campus police. There’s a good thing that comes out of it, I think. That sinkhole got located, and they’ll fill it so no one will fall down it.”

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli