'Hero' Veteran Saves Puppy by Climbing 100 Feet Down Ravine

Photo credit: Ross County Humane Society's Facebook page. Used with permission.

Joe broke his back in the military. 

Now Joe rides bikes to connect with other veterans.

And puppies.

Several months ago, Joe Lawhorn was riding his bike in a national park when he spotted a freezing cold, abandoned puppy. Not only did Joe rescue the dog, but he also adopted it. 

This was hardly an isolated incident for the U.S. Marine Corps and Army veteran. He’s seen first hand how fearless and loyal dogs can be in service to their country. And according to the director of the Ross County Humane Society in Chillicothe, Ohio: Joe has adopted a number of “misfit” dogs through the years. 

Joe has adopted a dog that had been shot with an arrow, a pit bull that had been in another shelter for years, and an emaciated puppy.

So no one was surprised when Joe answered a social media call to try to rescue an 8-week-old, mixed breed puppy trapped in a ravine. But this rescue attempt would be very different. It would involve a huge safety risk.

Article: Are your pets prepared for an emergency?

Helping other vets through cycling

While spending 12 years serving his country during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Joe broke his back. Cycling was one of the ways he rehabilitated.

But his bike riding wasn’t merely therapeutic. Formerly a runner, he now competes for Team Dayton Cycling.

Joe was involved with a 2019 video project promoting the Tour of Ross County Heroes. The fundraising cycling event assisted the Chillicothe VA Medical Center’s Veterans Bike Program.

In the video, Joe recounts his emotional ride into Chillicothe during the 3,000-plus-mile Race Across America. And how cycling has helped him connect with many veterans. And help them cope with PTSD.

Joe knows how important a support network - and a mission - is to the men & women who have served our country. 

4Patriots knows this too… that’s why we’ve donated to an “adventure group” in middle Tennessee that takes veterans mountain climbing, SCUBA diving, and more.

Scaling down the ravine

The Ross County Humane Society learned about the puppy in the ravine through a phone call. The puppy was stranded on a slate ledge near a waterfall after having tumbled between 80 and 100 feet.

Staff members tried to reach the crying puppy. But he was too far down for them to safely get closer than halfway there. They returned discouraged and covered with mud.

Joe learned about their social media post and quickly took action. He drove to the scene and began scaling down toward the scared puppy.

Not realizing that he was already in rescue mode, Joe’s wife sent him a screenshot of the social media post and asked if he had any ideas about what to do. She said, “if anyone was insane enough to try it,” she knew it would be him. 

Puppies named after Joe’s sponsors

“(The) problem wasn’t getting down,” Joe said. “As I looked up, holding this tiny puppy, (I thought) how do I climb out of here one-handed holding (him). Needless to say we climbed out.”

Joe credited his love for “alternative X-game style sports” with his ability to retrieve the dog.

After being treated at the North Fork Animal Clinic, the puppy was taken to the shelter to be reunited with his siblings. Each of which is expected to reach 50 to 60 pounds when fully grown.

The rescued puppy was named Kenda after one of Joe’s sponsors, Kenda Tire Road N Gravel. Kenda’s littermates – all males – were also named after his sponsors.

They are Rudy (Rudy Project North America), Irwin (Irwin Cycling), Marque (Marque Cycling) and Fuji (Fuji Bikes).

Encouraging adoptions and donations

All five puppies were to be put up for adoption. In a social media post, the humane society quipped, “The infamous cliff-jumping puppies are going to be available for adoption soon.”

Joe said he has nothing to do with the adoption process, but hopes the dogs end up with people he knows.

He knows that pets save their owners’ lives more often than people think.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says 6.3 million animals enter shelters every year. Over 3 million of them are dogs.

Joe strongly urges people to adopt or foster animals from shelters such as the Ross County Humane Society. In one post about his local shelter, he wrote, “If you can’t do either of them, please consider donating.”         

P.S. Thanks to the support of our customers, 4Patriots donates to Pets for Vets to help match pets in need with vets in need. In fact, in 2022 we’re pledging $1,000 per day in donations to charities that support our military veterans and their families. Thank YOU for helping to make this happen with your purchase!

P.P.S. If you have a dog, don’t forget their needs in a survival situation. After you get your own 4-week survival food supply, take a look at our survival food made for dogs - it has real chicken and vegetables, and it’s designed to stay good for 25 years.


  • Paul Stanley - April 29, 2022

    It’s called “unconditional love “ !!❤️❤️❤️

  • Pamela D Ortiz - April 24, 2022

    I’m so thankful for your courage, willingness and sweet spirit for animals. You are truly a gift from God! I know that had to be a difficult climb in AND out, but you did it!
    Just wanted to thank you so very much. I pray blessings to surround your life everyday, my friend. You are a HERO!

  • Jeffrey Lindsey - April 22, 2022

    Good man! Much respect. Semper Fi

  • Patricia Gonzales - April 22, 2022

    Thank you for saving the puppy you are a very special young man. God bless you. Please make survival food in beef as there is a large number of the puppy population that are allergic to chicken and they scratch themselves raw. Give us a choice of chicken or beef please.

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