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RSPCA and fire crew rescue dog from 15ft deep shaft after ‘stroke of luck’ find

RSPCA and fire crew rescue dog from 15ft deep shaft after ‘stroke of luck’ find

A dog walker, RSPCA officers and firefighters worked together to rescue a dog from a waterlogged 15ft-deep (4.5m) concrete shaft in County Durham.

A man was walking his dogs on wasteland known locally as Phoenix Sidings - in Stockton-on-Tees - on 12 April when he spotted that the lid to a large hole in the ground was partially open. He looked down to see an animal stuck at the bottom of the 15-foot-deep concrete shaft.

He called the RSPCA for help and Inspectors Steph Baines and Krissy Raine rushed to the scene.

Inspector Steph said: “It was a complete stroke of luck that the man was in the area as he never walked his dogs there before. It’s also incredibly lucky that he was interested enough to peer into the hole. But the biggest miracle is that he even spotted the animal at the bottom of the shaft because it was incredibly dark and very deep.

“When he called us he believed it was a badger stranded in the contaminated water at the bottom of the shaft. When we arrived we could only just see the animal but couldn’t be sure so we took a video that was zoomed right in and spotted that it was in fact a dog.”

The shaft was deep and narrow, and the officers had no idea how deep the water in the bottom was or how frightened the dog was so they called Cleveland Fire Brigade for help and a crew from Thornaby came to help.

A water rescue trained firefighter went down into the shaft in his flood suit to comfort the dog and place two lengths of fire hose around him.

Inspector Raine added: “We managed to get some of the hose under his chest and some under his hips, like a sling; made sure he was safe and then carefully lifted him up and out of the shaft. As we all believed he was initially a badger we decided to name him Badger.

“Badger was utterly exhausted when we finally reached him; if the man hadn’t found him when he did and we didn’t get him out so quickly, I have no doubt that he sadly would have drowned.

“He was up to his neck and could barely keep his head above the water. He was giving up in front of our eyes and it was a real race against time.”

The large crossbreed was wearing a leather collar with brass studs and a black leather lead so officers believe he may have run off during a walk and fallen into the hole. He is microchipped but the chip isn’t registered.

“Badger couldn’t stand but he’s a huge dog, even though he was clearly underweight, so we wrapped him in a big towel like a stretcher and it took four of us to carry him to my van,” Steph added.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to the man who found Badger and called us for help, as well as the fire crew who got him out of the shaft, and the vets who are now providing him with round-the-clock care.

“We all need to work together to help create a kinder world for every animal and each act of kindness makes a difference; Badger’s life has been saved thanks to everyone who pulled together to help him.”

A spokesperson from Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “After a successful rescue mission we are so happy to hear that the dog has pulled through and survived what must have been a terrifying ordeal and is now in the care of the RSPCA who are doing an incredible job of looking after him.

“We’d like to thank everyone involved in saving this beautiful dog’s life and we wish him well in his recovery and hope he finds the love and attention he deserves soon.”

The search is on

Badger the dog after the rescue took place Grey and white crossbreed Badger - thought to be less than a year old - is now being cared for by vets who found his skin had been blistered by the contaminated water. He’s being fed using a feeding tube but is drinking water independently and getting stronger day by day.

Steph added: “We believe he’d been stuck at the bottom of the shaft for a number of days - possibly even a week - and the water he’d been sitting in was contaminated so it has blistered his skin.

“He also has blisters on the inside of his mouth from drinking the water which, no doubt, saved his life although may also have made him poorly.

“He’s still very weak and he’s not out of the woods yet but he’s getting stronger every day and he can now manage little walks outside to go to the toilet. His tail has even started wagging.”

The RSPCA is now searching for Badger’s owner. Steph added: “Badger is lucky to be alive and he’s really lovely; a friendly, gentle giant. There must be someone out there who is missing him and wondering where he’s gone.

“Please contact our appeal line on 0300 123 8018 if you know where he may have come from. We’d love to reunite him with his family.”