Release date: 29 October 2020
A late night mission to rescue a trapped dog from a rabbit warren ended up in a double rescue for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) last night.
The crew were mobilised to a field near Lavant shortly after 10.30pm on Wednesday evening (28 October) after the owner had spent several hours at the site trying to coax Jack Russell Max out with no success since about 1pm that afternoon.
After liaising with the RSPCA, who confirmed the hole the dog was stuck down was not a badger sett – which are protected by law, the crew were given the green light to excavate around the hole to try and find Max.
TRU Crew Commander, Charlie Eastwell, said: “As part of our equipment we have a number of cameras and listening devices, which we would normally use to locate people trapped under rubble when a structure collapses. We were able to put these down the hole, which looked like an abandoned rabbit warren, to try and pinpoint where Max was.
“But once we got the camera down there, the first thing we saw wasn’t Max, but a fox that was also stuck down there with him, and was between Max and the exit tunnel preventing him from getting out.
“Very carefully we began to dig around the network of tunnels towards where we had seen Max and the fox.
“Just as we broke through into the tunnel, Max poked his head out through, and with some encouragement from his owner, out he came. Thankfully there was no lasting damage, he was just a bit thirsty having been stuck down there for more than 12 hours.
“After reuniting Max with his owner, we turned off all the lights and stood back and out came the fox who disappeared into the night.
“It was almost three in the morning by the time we had packed up and left the scene, but we would much rather that people called us for help if their pets end up trapped in a situation like this. Not only do we not want people to put themselves at risk trying to rescue their pets, but we have equipment – like the listening devices and cameras - that allow us to locate the animal with minimal disruption and destruction to the network of tunnels.
“We were all delighted to see Max reunited with his owner, but we think that both he and the fox have learned their lesson and won’t be exploring any rabbit warrens together in future!”