Florida hiker rescues dog trapped in cave for 3 weeks

Posted at 7:55 AM, Jun 06, 2019

LAND O'LAKES, Fla. — A hiker found a dog alive after being trapped in a cave for three weeks deep in the state forest in Central Florida.

On any given weekend, you'll find Joe Dunn off the beaten path, looking for nuggets of Florida history and never knowing what he'll find.

"It was unbelievable going out there, just a cave in the middle of the wilderness. It took several miles to hike out there," said Dunn.

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When he headed out last weekend to the Withlacoochee State Forest in Levy County, he carried his camera, as he always does, to document the day. That's when he heard a strange noise, one that didn't belong deep in the woods. It was a dog in distress, whimpering in the distance.

"I was a sound you don't like to hear. Really disturbing, makes you really sad to hear," said Dunn.

He followed the sounds and came upon a cave where he discovered a scared pup down below that was desperate for help.

"It looked up at us, trying to jump through the cavern, trying its best," said Dunn.

He knew he needed help getting the dog out. So, he put out the call on social media, through his nature website,, and got an overwhelming response.

Shortly afterward, a rescue team went down in the ground to get their girl, who they later learned was named Sally. She had been missing for nearly a month.

"It was such a great feeling, let me tell you. The dog was so happy. She just rolled around on the grass, wanting her belly rubbed. She was the happiest animal I've ever seen," said Dunn. "Going through all this, it made me feel really rewarded, helping another life survive. Help something good happen in this world."

They found a phone number on the collar and were able to reunite Sally with her owner, who was thrilled to have his four-legged family member back home.