Spelunkers rescue 13-year-old dog from cave months after she went missing

For about two months, a family’s 13-year-old dog was missing, but they did not anticipate reuniting with her on August 6 after she was rescued from the Tom Moore Cave system located in Perry County, Missouri.

What was meant to be a project weekend for the Cave Research Foundation turned into a rescue mission for one group after they came across Abby, who had been missing since early June.

“It’s hard to believe, she’s been gone for so long,” Kathy Bohnert, Abby’s owner, told CBS affiliate station KFVS.

A dog that was missing for two months was found in a cave and returned to her owners. Above, A stock image of a cave entrance.

Caves in Missouri

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri is known as the Cave State, boasting about 7,500 caves.

“Caves are identified as either commercial or wild,” the agency said.

Commercial caves are open to the public for tours, while wild caves have not been altered.

Members of the Cave Research Foundation planned to survey and map out the caves, but a group changed their course of action when children in the group came across Abby.

‘Cold and Muddy’

Rick Haley, a caver with about 32 years of experience, told Newsweek that they did a physical examination to check for injuries.

“We could tell she was malnourished, she was cold and she was muddy,” he said. “Her nails were long and pointed, which indicated that she hadn’t done much walking around.”

And, Haley said, the area experienced tremendous rainfall.

Abby was unable to walk out of the cave, which was when she was put into a duffle bag to be carried out.

“I got that bag out, unzipped it, laid the blanket it, and the dog at that point walked over and sat in the bag,” Haley told KFVS. “Because the dog recognized that, ‘This is the driest, warmest and softest thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m just going to lay on it.'”

He told Newsweek that it took about an hour to get Abby out of the cave, though the group took their time to be careful and were in no hurry.

There were times when the cave ceiling was low, and at one point, Abby needed to be passed up through a vertical series of tight squeezes.

Haley said while Abby was wearing a collar, there was no name or indication of who her owners were. Gerry Keene, a fellow caver with more than 10 years of experience, took a photo of Abby on his phone and went around the neighborhood asking residents if they recognized the dog.

Eventually, Haley said, he found a homeowner who identified Kathy and Jeff Bohnert as Abby’s owners.

“Her owner picked her up at the cave and was pretty astonished,” he said.

Newsweek reached out to Gerry Keene and Jeff Bohnert for further comment.

This is not the first touching reunion between a pet and its owner.

A video shared on Reddit went viral after it showed a cat who recognized its previous owner after years of living with a new family.

One dog was reunited with its family 11 years after it was stolen. Another dog who fell off of a boat was returned to her owners after she managed to swim for two days before reaching a beach.

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