Sunday, December 11, 2016

United Kingdom: Firefighters spend 9 hours digging to rescue dog from drain

UNITED KINGDOM -- Firefighters have rescued a pet dog that was stuck 15 feet underground for 27 hours.

Eight officers carried out the nine-hours rescue with specialist excavation, videoing and listening devices usually deployed in the event of a natural disaster or building collapse.

After an exhausting effort, which involved sending cameras underground and drawing maps of what was visible, Moppit the Patterdoodle, was recovered from a tunnel.

Operation Moppit concluded when the pet was pulled through a narrow crevice in the ground and reunited with relieved owner, Rachel Stormonth-Darling.

The eight-year-old dog, a Patterdale Terrier and Mini Poodle cross, ended up underground after making her way from an empty stream at the end of her garden into a tunnel.

Moppit became trapped after she caused part of the tunnel to collapse while trying to dig her way out.

Rachel, 53, heard her pet whimpering from underneath the next door neighbor's garden patio, in Iwerne Minster, Dorset, at which point she had already been missing for 18 hours.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service station manager, Stuart Gillion, attended the address and found Moppit stranded 15 feet below the earth in a tunnel usually full of water.

Due to her precarious position he called in a fire crew, a technical rescue team and the urban search and rescue unit from Exeter, Devon - a highly trained underground rescue team.

Mark Greave, the owner of the property, gave officers permission to excavate two holes in his garden.

By using specially made cameras they were able to establish the layout of the tunnels and draw up a map, which allowed them to safely dig into an area of earth with a piece of specialist ground-breaking machinery.

They were assisted by neighbor and local history buff Michael Orham who has lived in the village for over 30 years and knows the formation of the underground tunnels. He advised the firefighters where to dig.

Moppit assisted proceedings by barking the entire time to show her position.

Nine hours after help arrived a smaller member of the team entered the tunnel through the small hole in the patio and retrieved the dog, which surfaced covered in dirt and was badly dehydrated.

After giving her some water Rachel was relieved to see her pet make a full recovery.

Rachel, who runs a Dorset travel website, said: 'I was scouring the garden when I noticed the stream had gone dry, which had never happened before.

'I put my ear to the connecting tunnel and heard Moppit.

'Then I walked into my neighbors garden and heard her again, this time much more clearly, through a drain and called the fire department.'

She added: 'The rescue team was incredible, I thought there was no chance she'd get rescued - it was against all odds she survived.

'The drilling through the ground was extraordinary - like a knife through butter. It was amazing to have her back in my arms, I was in complete shock.

'I'm so relieved that the whole ordeal ended happily for Moppit, she's the luckiest dog alive. It makes you realize how lucky we are in this country to have people who can do this.'

Mr Gillion, who led the rescue, said: 'After a call from a concerned member of the public I attended the scene and found the owner trying to shift the dirt with her bare hands, we had to convince her from going underground herself.

'I decided we needed additional expertise and called in the Urban Search and Rescue Unit, whose highly trained officers made the rescue possible.


'After identifying the dog's location we drew up a map on a whiteboard and dug a hole before one of our smaller team members recovered her. Moppit was very dirty and thirsty but the owner was very relieved. It was a good rescue with great teamwork and a happy ending.'

Both Rachel and Stuart gave thanks to the work of the urban search and rescue team, which was set up in the wake of the September 11 attacks. They generally use their special recovery equipment for incidents such as cliff collapses and floods.  

(Daily Mail - Dec 1, 2016)

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