It was a “ruff” afternoon for Emma, a seven-year-old Labrador who was trapped for over an hour on one of the ledges of the Ellwood Bluffs yesterday, before firefighters rappelled down the cliffs to rescue her.
At approximately 1:45 p.m. firefighters responded to a call for service on Ellwood Mesa, at the end of Santa Barbara Shores Road, to find the dog trapped on a ledge roughly halfway down the bluff. Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. Captain Keith Cullom said six firefighters held the ropes as firefighter Tyler Gilliam rappelled 30 feet down the cliff to reach the dog. Cullom said it took 45 minutes for the firefighters to rescue the dog and lower her 25 feet to the beach.
Emma’s owner, Robin Bell, a creative studies professor at UCSB, said she and her two children were visiting the bluffs to observe the area’s butterfly population when the dog slipped off the side of the cliff. Bell said she and her family went down to the beach and tried to climb up to get the dog, but the cliff was too slippery.
“We kept trying to climb up the cliff,” Bell said. “You think you can [climb it] because it looks easier than it is. It was like climbing up Teflon with thorns in it – the plants kept coming apart and the dirt was like powder.”
The family also tried calling Emma down from the cliff, but Bell said the dog would not move.
“The dog was smarter than we were,” she said. “We called her and called her, trying to get her to walk down the cliff, but she stayed there.”
Bell said she and her children were terrified for the dog’s safety.
“I was afraid our dog would be stuck forever or would fall and get hurt or killed,” Bell said.
Bell said her children were very grateful when firefighters arrived on the scene to rescue Emma.
“It was nice for the kids to see how helpful the firefighters were,” Bell said. “They thought it was really neat. It was so wonderful the firefighters could help because we had no way of getting her down. I had no idea how dangerous the cliffs are.”