Dog trapped underground for 60 hours is finally reunited with family

3 March 2022, 13:44

Winston the cocker spaniel was rescued almost three days after he fell into a badger sett
Winston the cocker spaniel was rescued almost three days after he fell into a badger sett. Picture: Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

Winston the cocker spaniel laid on his back ready for belly rubs after a fire crew and the RSPCA removed him from the badger sett.

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A dog who was trapped underground for 60 hours has finally be reunited with his family.

Winston, the black cocker spaniel, fell down a badger sett while out for a walk with his owner, Helen, in Diamond Jubilee Wood in Leicester.

Once she realised Winston was not with her, Helen retraced her steps and looked for half an hour before realising what had happened to her beloved pooch.

She said: "Winston's a working dog, so it's not strange for him to be off the lead and sniffing at bushes. We'd gone off the tracks but five minutes later I turned around and realised he wasn't behind me.

Winston could not be saved until 48 hours had passed because badgers and their setts are protected by law
Winston could not be saved until 48 hours had passed because badgers and their setts are protected by law. Picture: Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service

"I retraced my steps and looked for half an hour before going back to get my husband. Alex looked under the tree and saw the holes, so we realised it was a badger's den."

She went on: "We could hear him barking and our hearts just sank. We couldn't do anything."

Unfortunately for the distressed family, nothing could be done for 48 hours because badgers and their setts are protected by law.

In fact, anyone found harming them or their habitats can face prison time or a fine.

The family contacted the RSPCA who visited the site with the Badgers Society, and the decision was made that they would have to wait two days before they could attempt to get Winston out.

Helen said that around 6:30pm on Saturday, the day the incident happened, she returned with food and water which they placed around all the entrances of the sett.

She added that around 7pm on Sunday they heard Winston bark for the last time, explaining that his silence "made us feel sick".

Almost three days after he fell into the sett, Winston was rescued by a team of experts
Almost three days after he fell into the sett, Winston was rescued by a team of experts. Picture: Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service

"The law said we had to wait in case Winston came out himself", Helen explained: "When they assessed it the sett was active but no evidence of any badgers coming or going - but we still had to wait."

An RSPCA officer had to be there for the rescue of Winston, however, due to staffing issues they could not get someone to the location until the Tuesday, adding another day to Winston's time in the tunnels.

Helen said: "Monday was a day wasted and we felt like we were gambling with his life.

"We wanted to do everything by the book but the waiting was unnecessarily prolonging the distress of our dog."

Winston was happy to be free and rolled on his back ready for some well-deserved belly rubs
Winston was happy to be free and rolled on his back ready for some well-deserved belly rubs. Picture: Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service

On the Tuesday, their local fire crew and the RSCPA rescued Winston using special equipment and following his barks to locate him.

The rescue had to be done slowly in order to stop the sett collapsing in on itself.

According to reports, once Winston was removed from the ground and reunited with his owners, he immediately laid on his back ready for belly rubs.

He was checked over by the RSPCA and did not sustain any physical wounds.

Winston's owners are delighted that they have their beloved dog back and that he came out of the ordeal with no physical injuries
Winston's owners are delighted that they have their beloved dog back and that he came out of the ordeal with no physical injuries. Picture: Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service

Speaking on the rescue, owner Helen said: "From the way he'd gone in and where we found him was completely miles away. He must have tried really hard to get out but luckily he didn't have any physical wounds - he was just really hungry.

"He is doing very well apart from being very weak. He had a lovely bath and a well deserved sleep!"

Helen, who is currently pregnant, added: "We are so so so happy to have our family complete again after this stressful ordeal - it’s definitely one to tell our child in the future!"

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