This New Jersey Community Came Together to Rescue Pit Bull Stranded in Waterfall
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio
The Paterson police, firefighters and animal control units successfully retrieved the Pit Bull dog trapped by the 75-foot waterfall.

A community in New Jersey launched a daring rescue to save one dog. Stuck and stranded under the Paterson Great Falls was a lone 70-pound pit bull, roughly three years old.

A couple visiting the national park that Sunday afternoon spotted the frightened and anxious dog standing on the ledge near the gushing water. Worried for his safety, they called the police for assistance and described the situation.

Pit Bull stuck in waterfall
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

The authorities also tapped the help of the Paterson Fire Department, knowing that this rescue was going to need the proper equipment. The police also alerted the Paterson Animal Control unit.

One Chance to Save the Dog

Hard rain hit this North Jersey town the night before. Locals know that water levels around the falls usually rise during the rainy weathers. It's unclear, however, how the pit bull found its way on the ledge but it was apparent to the rescuers that they couldn't retrieve the dog by boat because the torrent around the falls was still not calm.

The dangerous waterfall
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

Fireman Capt. Scott Parkin knew that the only way to pick up the pit bull was to rappel down the fall from the bridge. Incidentally, Paterson Great Falls measured at least 75 feet high, one of the highest waterfalls in New Jersey.

It took a while for the rescuers to prepare and set up how they would be able to take the dog to safety. Aside from the gushing water, the air around the waterfalls was misty. Everyone wanted to make sure that no one would be in danger. Parkin said that they only had a single chance to do it right.

Rescuers planning how to save the dog from waterfall
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

Meanwhile, the pit bull patiently remained where he was below the ground, while the humans converged and devised a plan to save him.

Rescue Done Right

As Parkin rappelled his way down where the Pit Bull stood, he hoped that the dog would not make any attempts to run or jump in the water because it will be over for him. So that this rescue goes well and the pittie won't be afraid, Parkin tried to earn the dog's trust first by gently motioning him to come closer with some treats, according to CBS.

The dog didn't immediately understand that he was being rescued but when he realized why Parkin was there, he responded positively to the coaxing and the treats.

Dog rescue mission begins
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

Finally, the firefighter was able to safely put the dog inside a netted bag. Upon Parkin's signal, the other rescuers pulled him and the dog up the bridge. Surprisingly, the pit bull was calm the whole way and once on dry land, the rescuers set the dog free from the bag and animal control took over.

Combined Community Effort

Upon examination, rescuers determined that the pittie only had bruises apart from being wet and was generally healthy. He was expected to make a full recovery in a few days.

Rescuers risking their life to save Pit Bull dog
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

Animal Control chief John Cando told NBC New York that had they not worked together for the rescue, the dog would have likely drowned as the water levels remained high. Meanwhile, Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge (RBAR), a no-kill shelter, has taken temporary custody of the dog, which was described as happy, friendly and strong.

They aptly named the pooch Paterson.

Rescued pit bull dog
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

History of Dog Rescue

It seemed Paterson was destined to meet his hero rescuer that fateful Sunday. In 1976, Parkin's dad, who also worked as a firefighter, did a daring rescue of a German shepherd near the falls.

Rescue team with their newly rescued dog
Photo: Frannie D'Annunzio

Meanwhile, RBAR executive director Megan Brinster told Patch that there have been incidents of people leaving their dogs at the Paterson Great Falls.  They still don’t know how Paterson ended up in the area.

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Camden Savage is a Phoenix based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught her every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.