Release date: 22 July 2020
A Jack Russell named Max needed all the help he could get to escape a well-defended rabbit hole after becoming trapped on Tuesday evening.
Joint Fire Control was alerted to the incident at around 8pm on Tuesday (21 July). Station Manager Simon Foster was first on the scene at Pagham Spit off Harbour Road and found the owner and a number of residents already there trying their best to locate missing dog Max.
Simon said: “He had been missing for about three hours already at this point, but luckily they had been able to pinpoint roughly where he was as they could hear his muffled barks and whimpers.
“The tricky part was that he appeared to be underground in an area covered in dense brambles, which made getting anywhere near the sound very difficult.”
Liaising with the service’s Technical Rescue Unit for some advice on how best to tackle the situation, Simon called on the support of Black Watch who were on duty at Bognor Regis Fire Station.
Simon said: “One of the people who had been helping the owner try to find Max lived nearby and had a large number of gardening tools at their disposal, which the crew was able to pick up on their way through.
“Between us we all started cutting back the brambles, all the while listening very carefully to try and hear if Max was still calling out. We also used the crew’s thermal imaging camera to see if we could find him that way. What that alongside the digging did show us though, was just how much a maze the rabbit warren was – it was quite an extensive and complex burrow, which was a little concerning.”
By this point it was starting to get darker, which made looking for any sign of movement that much harder. Max’s cries had also started getting quieter and quieter.
But the owner was adamant they wouldn’t be leaving him there overnight on his own.
Simon added: “I have a dog myself, and the watch at Bognor are all dog owners too, so there was no way we were going to be beaten.
“One of the crew stood back up onto a patch of brambles that we hadn’t yet cut back and realised there was another entrance to the burrow under there. I knelt back down and started digging out the soil with my hands. I must only have dug about six inches, and this head appeared right where my hand had been. I couldn’t believe it.”
Digging away around him very carefully, they were able to lift Max out of the ground and reunite him with his owner.
Simon added: “It was such a relief to find Max. Everyone there was very concerned for his welfare, but it was lovely to see the local community really pull together to help with the rescue.”