It must have been an ominous moment. Preston Gladd was out hiking in Colorado when a strange noise stopped him in his tracks. Unsettling whining was coming from an old mine shaft, and Gladd wasn’t going to venture down to see what was causing it. One week later, though, he returned – and made a disturbing discovery.
Gladd comes from Park County, Colorado, and in the summer of 2017 he had spent much of his time exploring the Pike National Forest near Fairplay in his home state. The location was of particular interest to Gladd thanks to the old mines that it contains.
In years gone by, the land surrounding the forest had been mined for coal, gold and limestone. However, due to the decline of these industries, many mines now lie abandoned. And these proved irresistible for an adventurer such as Gladd.
It’s worth remembering, though, that abandoned mines can be incredibly dangerous. They pose a number of threats, including bad air quality, unsafe structures and various invisible dangers. With that in mind, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety is working hard to close up old mine shafts.
Presumably, Gladd knows the hazards surrounding out-of-use mines, because when he heard a growling sound coming from below ground during one of his hikes in 2017, he decided not to descend the shaft. He guessed that the noise was coming from a wild animal that would be capable of fending for itself.
However, in the days that followed, the strange whines that Gladd had heard emanating from the mine began to play on his mind. In October 2017 he told CBS4, “I’ve been wanting to go in and explore the cave, and I like animals a lot, so I couldn’t stop thinking about the animal.”
Gladd therefore returned to the mine about one week later; and this time, he vowed to get to the bottom of what was producing the noise in the shaft. However, little could have prepared him for what he would find down there.
As Gladd neared the mine for a second time, he heard the distinct sound of a canine woofing. “So I crawled down into the mine and looked down the shaft and saw [that] there was somebody’s dog with a collar stuck down at the bottom running around,” the hiker later revealed to CBS4.
At this point, Gladd thought it wise to call for backup. Specifically, he contacted his girlfriend, Portia Scovern, and his roommate Gannon Ingels, and the pair soon arrived on the scene equipped with climbing apparatus.
Recalling the moment that Gladd had called him into action, Ingles later told CBS4, “He’s like, ‘Gannon, that mine I was exploring the other day – there’s a dog down here. Get the gear. We’ve got to save it.’ I was stoked. I was like, ‘What – puppy to save?’ For sure, way better than the nap I was going to take.”
After gearing up, then, the threesome entered the mine. From there, Scover and Ingels lowered Gladd 25 feet down into the mine shaft. And at the bottom, he found a little brown dog who was clearly malnourished – but miraculously unharmed.
After successfully retrieving the dog, Gladd and his co-rescuers rushed the animal to a vet to have her checked over. There, they discovered that the dog had no microchip. Yes, while she was wearing a collar, it had no details attached.
Yet although the odds of finding the dog’s owner seemed slim, Gladd, Scovern and Ingels couldn’t give up on her. Hence, Scovern posted footage of the dog’s rescue on her Facebook page; she hoped that someone might see it and provide a clue to the animal’s origin.
Not content with stopping there, Scovern also shared images of the poor pooch on many lost dog pages online. If there was any chance of finding the animal’s owner, the thinking went, then surely it was through the power of social media.
Before long, users had shared Scovern’s post more than 750 times, and the response surprised the animal’s rescuers. “I would never guess [that] it would blow up and people would spread it around everywhere,” Ingels said. “It was really, really cool to see it all come together.”
As word of the dog’s rescue spread, Scovern in fact received hundreds of comments on her Facebook page. Many people pointed the animal rescuer to a “lost dog” post on the South Park Bulletin. And the missing dog looked near-identical to the one Scovern and her buddies had saved.
Scovern subsequently decided to reach out to the user who had posted the appeal, and they confirmed that the dog was indeed theirs. As a result, the pet went home less than 24 hours after Scovern had launched her online search.
Scovern, Gladd and Ingles learned that the dog they’d rescued was called Cheyenne. Amazingly, she is believed to have gone missing at the beginning of October, almost two weeks before her rescuers found her.
It’s not known how long Cheyenne spent at the bottom of the mine. However, given the sounds that Gladd heard on his first visit, it seems likely that she was there for at least a week. Her rescuers were therefore astounded by her health. “She was not as bad as I expected,” Gladd told Summit Daily in October 2017.
After the successful rescue of Cheyenne, Gladd, Scovern and Ingles were hailed as heroes. Scovern even got the chance to sell the rights of her rescue video. However, she refused. “A dog found literally in the middle of nowhere is reward enough for us,” she wrote on Facebook in October 2017.