Firefighter Rescue Dog From Rappels Down Waterfall


Firefighter Rescue Dog. What lengths would you go to in order to save a pet? While we all hope our beloved animals never find themselves in harm’s way, we certainly want the best people on the job in case of an emergency.

One team of New Jersey firefighters faced incredible odds in their effort to save a stranded dog. Pitted against an incredibly steep drop and a torrent of roaring water, they set out on their mission. A single false step would result in disaster.

Pulling a cat out of a tree was a standard task for Fire Captain Scott Parkin. But one morning he received a call about a far more complicated pet rescue.

Firefighter Rescue

Something was wrong at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Visitors spotted movement in some bushes growing out of a nearby ledge. What could it possibly be?

A closer look revealed a dog stranded at the foot of the waterfall. Nobody there could reach it, and one misstep would plunge the canine straight into the raging Passaic River. 

Firefighter Rescue Dog

 The situation was serious. The Great Falls span nearly 80 feet from top to bottom, placing it among the largest waterfalls in the United States.

To make things worse, heavy rains from the past couple days made the waterfall’s current incredibly fierce. Parkin would have to act fast.

As luck would have it, he was the perfect man for the job. For one thing, he had 25 years under his belt as a firefighter and had handled plenty of disasters.

Flickr / Nick Perla

He also had crisis management in his blood. His father Joseph was a longtime firefighter who passed along all his knowledge to his son.

Firefighter Rescue DogPaterson Fire History

Back in 1976, Joseph even saved two dogs from that same waterfall. Now Parkin was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Flickr / Joel Sax

Additionally, he felt more than prepared to put his life on the line for the pooch. Parkin believed that ‘dogs are the best — sometimes better than people.’

Firefighter Rescue Dog

The Paterson firefighters originally considered launching a rescue mission by boat. However, the powerful current made this option too risky. They were going to have to get creative.


With the help of his team, Parkin hooked up a cable to a bridge above the falls and bravely rappelled down. Hopefully, the dog would cooperate, or else the ride back up would go far less smoothly. / Mitsu Yasukawa

When Parkin finally reached the ledge, he breathed a sigh of relief. The pitbull in peril was not hostile or seriously injured. 

Flickr / Kait Young

Parkin was a dog owner himself, so he knew how to earn the dog’s trust despite the tense situation. With a handful of food and a few encouraging words, he lured it closer.

Keeping his cool, Parkin led the pit bull into a bag connected to the cable. It wouldn’t provide the most comfortable ride for the pup, but at least it wouldn’t be able to look down!

Firefighter Rescue Dog

As a crowd of concerned onlookers gathered around the waterfall, the Fire Captain gave the signal that he was ready for his team to hoist him up. / Mitsu Yasukawa

The firefighters expertly pulled Parkin and his new friend up the face of the Great Falls. At last, he planted his feet back on solid ground. Mission success!

Animal control officers on the scene confirmed that the pooch was okay and congratulated Parkin. They said that without his heroics, the critter would have likely drowned. / Mitsu Yasukawa

A class act all the way, Parkin gave full credit to his team. He explained, ‘I trust these guys with my life. I’d go off any structure at any height with the trust I have in these guys and the work they do.’

NBC4 New York

The dog’s collar had no tag attached, so Mayor Andre Sayegh named it Paterson. With open arms, the fire department adopted the animal named after the town.

Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge

How did Parkin celebrate a job well done? He went off to call his 94-year-old father, who was undoubtedly quite proud. For the Parkin clan, animal rescues simply run in the family.

Scott Parkin’s bravery in saving a dog from a dangerous waterfall is truly inspiring. It’s clear his passion for animals runs deep.

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