Hunting Dog Rescued: A Lucky Escape

Published in About Animals

The hunting season on Hvar lasts from October to January. On Sundays and Wednesdays, from early morning to mid-afternoon, hunting dogs can be heard barking and yapping as they search out the prey for their owners to shoot.

A sorry sight, but safe. A sorry sight, but safe. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The hunting grounds are signposted here and there, but in fact extend pretty well over the whole island, so it's not wise to go walking in the countryside during the hunting hours.

Hunting ground sign. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Quite often, hunting dogs remain out and about after the end of the hunting day. While the well-trained dogs generally return to their owners on command, young dogs or those which are new to the island may not be as disciplined. The owners usually notify the local gamekeeper (čuvar lovišta, lovočuvar) that their dog is still loose, otherwise there is a risk that the dog will be shot if it is disturbing the hunting grounds out of hours. Other hunters are also asked to keep a lookout, so that the dog can be returned as quickly as possible. GPS tracker collars are a godsend in the owner's search for a missing dog. When the dog is micro-chipped, the owner can be identified , but this does mean the finder has to get the dog to the local vet or town warden (komunalni redar) to get the chip read. This system doesn't work if the micro-chip details are incomplete or not up to date. Dogs which are not micro-chipped are a problem, but because hunting dogs are a valuable commodity, the owner usually turns up when word gets around that a lost hunting dog has been found.

It's easy for dogs to get lost in Hvar's dense woodlands. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The best-case scenarios: the loose dog is found, or finds its way home in the shortest possible time, within a day or two of going missing. Worst-case scenarios for roaming dogs include: raiding chicken runs or sheep pens for food; killing cats; collapsing from exhaustion, especially in warmer weather; getting trapped in dense undergrowth; or falling into pools or water tanks and drowning. A dog whose owner has failed to feed it properly is more likely to go for the chickens or other animals, and is also at risk of dying of hunger and/or thirst if it cannot find sources of food and water during a prolonged period in the wild. Sad to say, some hunters, especially in the older generation, give their dogs less than enough to subsist on, especially outside the hunting season.

Not long after the hunting season started in October 2020, one Sunday evening a dog could be heard barking in the hillside above Gornje Pitve, the village where Eco Hvar is based. As usual, for the first few days no-one was worried. However, the barking continued, becoming more insistent day and night, and seeming to come from the same place. After more than a week it was clear something was wrong. Was the dog incapacitated, trapped or tied up somewhere? Eco Hvar supporter Susanne, who lives in Austria and has a house in Gornje Pitve, decided to find out during her regular walk with her own dog Poli.

Susanne and Poli in Jelsa. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Poli is no stranger to rescues, having been rescued herself with her mother and siblings from somewhere near Dubrovnik, by the Graz-based Austrian charity 'N&N helping Dogs', which specializes in saving strays in eastern European countries. Having captivated Susanne's heart, Poli now lives a joyful life of ease between Austria and Dalmatia.

The search lasted two days, because on the first day the barking stopped for several hours before Susanne and Poli could identify the source. Success came on the second day some time after noon, when Susanne and Poli managed to find their way to a pit, about a metre and a half deep, where a shaggy dog was trapped, too far down to be reached without a ladder. The pit was almost inaccessible, a long way from the normal path, and hidden in dense undergrowth. To reach it Susanne and Poli had to clamber down to cross the dry river-bed, then up on to the opposite side, where they had to negotiate a long stretch of very unfriendly terrain.

Trapped. Photo: S.P.

Having found the dog, which seemed to be in good spirits and apparently unharmed, Susanne organized the next stage of the rescue by phoning me and sending pictures of the dog and its surroundings. I then contacted Hvar's gamekeeper Tonči Batoš, who called on the Fire Brigade to lend a hand. Jelsa's chief Fire Officer Roman Radonić, himself a resident of Pitve, immediately abandoned his lunch and we drove out of the village until we could see Susanne waiting patiently for us on the other side of the riverbed, where she could be seen from the road.

Susanne waited over an hour for help to arrive. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

She had waited there for over an hour while we organized the rescue, as she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to find the place again if she left the territory. It would have been impossible to find without her guidance. Armed with his ladder, Roman climbed down the drops in the riverbed, while Susanne made her way through the undergrowth back to the stricken dog's location, which was not visible from the road.

Roman armed with his ladder. Photo: Vivian Grisogono
Roman climbing up to the dog's location. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Once there, in a trice Roman had gone down into the pit and handed the dog up to Susanne, who then threaded her way back through the undergrowth leading the two dogs to the place where the riverbed could be crossed without a ladder. As the walls of the riverbed were slippery, Roman sprang across to relieve her of the dogs. The rescue dog proved to be a coarse-haired Istrian hound, tired, hungry, probably shocked by her ordeal, but glad to be rescued, and physically uninjured.

Enjoying the grass after the rescue. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Removed to a safe place, she ate well and slept soundly.

Eating heartily after the rescue. Photo: Vivian Grisogono
Basking in the sun the next day. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Her white coat was masked by several layers of dirt and matted fur. Eco Hvar supporter Sara Radonić, a qualified dog groomer, spent four hours over two days restoring her to respectability.

Sara volunteered four hours of grooming to the unkempt fur. Photo: Vivian Grisogono.

The dog's owner contacted us as soon as he heard that his Dijana had been found, saving us the trouble of having her micro-chip read. He had been searching for her for ten days, and was grateful to have her returned clean, fit and well. He told us that Dijana frequently went missing once she was out hunting, unlike his other hounds, and this was confirmed by Stari Grad vet Dr. Prosper Vlahović. Fortunately, her owner obviously fed her well, otherwise she would have been in a much worse state after ten days stuck in the pit. Even so, one wonders how much longer she could have survived without food and water.

Happy to be free! Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The Eco Hvar team is, of course, delighted with the outcome of this successful rescue. Given that it is by no means rare for hunting dogs to go roaming, we hope this experience will encourage more hunters to fit their dogs with GPS collars, so that finding them doesn't involve so much detective work.

Susanne with Dijana, with the hillside where Dijana got lost in the background. Photo: Vivian Grisogono
Saviours: Susanne with Poli, relaxing, mission accomplished! Photo: Vivian Grisogono

© Vivian Grisogono 2020

You are here: Home about animals Hunting Dog Rescued: A Lucky Escape

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Cyclone Winston devastated vital coral colonies off Fiji, but four years on, the reefs are alive again, teeming with fish and colour

    In the immediate aftermath of the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in the southern hemisphere, reefs across the Namena reserve and Vatu-i-Ra conservation park off Fiji were reduced to rubble.

    Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji on 20 February 2016, causing devastation on land and underwater. Winds of up to 280km/h claimed 44 lives, leaving more than 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed, and storm surges smashed reefs in their path. Winston caused US$1.4bn in damage, the most destructive cyclone ever in the Pacific.

    Continue reading...

  • Expanding dairy herds have seen surplus male calves shipped to the continent for veal, but there is unease over welfare conditions

    Irish authorities have announced plans to fly unweaned dairy calves from Ireland to other EU destinations from May, in an effort to address growing unease about the length of the journeys made by thousands of animals shipped each year to mainland Europe.

    The Irish government has been subject to sustained scrutiny over live calf exports and the decision to experiment with flights, which will significantly cut travel time, comes as a European parliament committee of inquiry examines alleged failures across Europe in enforcing rules on protecting transported animals.

    Continue reading...

  • The best of the week’s wildlife pictures, including a peacock in flight, otters crossing the road and kittiwakes in Newcastle

    Continue reading...

  • Knotbury, Staffordshire: A snatch of robin song, the cry of a raven a mile off, and the mating calls of red grouse punctuate an otherwise still, wintry day

    After the long snow-lined and sunless days, the world seemed suddenly released. The airwaves were full of reports of record temperatures, friends’ first sightings of butterflies and pictures of daffodils. Here, however, over the hill from Flash – England’s highest village (461m) – there may have been sunshine but the landscape felt locked in winter.

    The bowl in which Knotbury hamlet lies is a place comprised of three sepia tones. There is the plush suede of old molinia and mat grass, into which are stretched swatches of soft rush and wider patches of brown-black heather. The walled pasture in the bowl bottom adds a single note of primary colour, but even then it’s still the wan green of dried herbs.

    Continue reading...

  • Move follows eight gorillas testing positive for coronavirus at the zoo at the start of 2021

    Nine great apes have been given an experimental Covid-19 vaccine at San Diego zoo after an outbreak in a troop of gorillas there in January.

    Five bonobos and four orangutans became the first great apes at an American zoo to receive jabs against the disease in January and February.

    Continue reading...

  • The remarkable bird has outlived mating partners, and even the biologist who first placed a band on her in 1956

    At 70 years of age, Wisdom the Laysan albatross has hatched another chick.

    Regarded as “oldest known wild bird in history”, Wisdom has outlived previous mating partners as well as the biologist Chandler Robbins, who first banded her in 1956.

    Continue reading...

  • Indian Ocean states say EU pushing weakest conservation efforts for yellowfin tuna while EU ‘distant fleet’ hoovers up the most fish

    The EU has been accused of “hypocrisy and neocolonialism” for proposing insufficient measures to tackle overfishing of yellowfin tuna, while being the largest fisher of the prized species in the Indian Ocean.

    Smaller than its Atlantic and Pacific bluefin cousins, the yellowfin tuna is one of the ocean’s fastest and strongest predators. Also called ahi tuna, this species is massively overfished in the Indian Ocean – so much so that supermarkets and brands including Tesco, Co-op and Princes recently took the surprising step of joining scientists and environmental groups to call for tough action to rebuild the $4bn population.

    Continue reading...

  • Public accounts committee report says despite green rhetoric, government policy is falling short

    Boris Johnson has failed to set out a plan for the UK to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions despite the government’s green rhetoric, a committee of MPs has found.

    Ministers are failing to instruct their departments to take the net zero goal into account when setting policy, there has been little coordination between central and local government on achieving emissions reductions, and the public has not been engaged, the public accounts committee said in a report published on Friday.

    Continue reading...

  • Langstone, Hampshire:Many species of wader feed at night, and although we can’t see them, we know we are surrounded

    Prior to the construction of a wooden bridge in 1825, the precursor to the present-day concrete structure, the only land link from Langstone to Hayling Island was via a causeway exposed at low tide. One evening, we decided to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors, and struck out along this route, which is three-quarters of a mile long and known locally as the Wadeway.

    Archaeological investigations carried out in 2005-06 determined that the hard-surfaced track is medieval in date and was probably laid during the early to mid-14th century, most likely in response to sea-level rises and storm surges.

    Continue reading...

  • Food discarded in homes is 74kg per person each year, with problem affecting rich and poor countries

    People waste almost a billion tonnes of food a year, a UN report has revealed. It is the most comprehensive assessment to date and found waste was about double the previous best estimate.

    The food discarded in homes alone was 74kg per person each year on average around the world, the UN found. In the UK, which has some of the best data, the edible waste represents about eight meals per household each week.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

Feed not found.