Just in the nick of time, SPCA's specialist rescue team has saved two dogs that had been trapped on a Mohaka cliff face for more than a week.
The dogs became stuck after falling down a gorge in remote forestry land at Skudders Ridge, near Kotemaori.
The dogs' owner tried to rescue them on Saturday but emergency services had to launch a four-hour rescue effort to free him when he became trapped too.
But the rescuers were unable to get the two dogs, who had to be left where they were with a supply of food.
Today, a six-member team from the SPCA's National Rescue Unit (NRU) in Wellington arrived and rescue co-ordinator Gina Kemp told Hawke's Bay Today, all had gone well.
"The dogs have been retrieved from down the cliff and brought out," she said.
"It was quite technical but the team did an amazing job.
"It was quite a distance from the vehicle access to where the actual cliff face was so we had to carry a bit of gear down.
"We then sent a responder down on a rope, on a double line, to get to the dogs, put them in a harness and bring them back one at a time, and then haul them back up."
The dogs could not be seen at first, but when team member Jen Rizzi started calling out they began to howl.
They were spotted about 60-80m down the steep cliff face, cowering under a log.
"'Fatso, the white crossbreed, was harnessed up first and attached to one of Jen's lines before they were both hauled up the cliff," Kemp said.
"There was a lot of debris and soft dirt which made ascension difficult, but Jen and Fatso finally appeared over the edge.
"Fatso initially couldn't stand, but after some encouragement he walked up the bank away from danger.
"Nuku, a brindle crossbreed, was up next, and Jen was once again lowered to the dog."
Rizzi said the rescue was "really challenging".
"I'm really pleased we were able to get these lovely dogs back to their owner."
The dogs had been down there for some time and had lost weight.
They would not have lasted much longer, Kemp added.
"They were pretty happy to be out, and although they had been through quite an ordeal they were able to walk out with us; we didn't have to carry them, which was good to see."
The dogs had been reunited with the owner, who was "absolutely rapt".
"He'll be following up with his vet just to get them checked over and make sure everything is okay."
The NRU team is group of internationally qualified emergency response volunteers who provide a technical rescue service for trapped animals.
Kemp said the team got in touch with the Hawke's Bay SPCA branch after seeing media reports about the trapped dogs and the SPCA head office asked them to help.
The rescue team was sent from Wellington at 6am and completed the rescue as night fell.