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Lynsted dog owner Elizabeth Dowson thanks Sittingbourne firefighters for saving pet patterdale terrier Fly

17 February 2014
by Andy Gray

Let the dog see the rabbit and it could lead to a Kent Fire and Rescue Service operation lasting nearly three hours.

Sittingbourne crews used sledgehammers and crowbars in a frantic attempt to release a patterdale terrier trapped beneath nearly 1ft of concrete.

The 11-year-old bitch, called Fly, disappeared down a rabbit hole in a derelict barn while out walking with its owner Elizabeth Dowson in Ludgate Lane, Lynsted.

Elizabeth Dowson and her dog Fly

Elizabeth Dowson and her dog Fly

Miss Dowson, 46, described the moment she feared her beloved pet was lost forever.

She said: "I walked into the barn and I could hear her barking. It was full of rabbit holes and she'd gone down the biggest one, which was about 1ft wide and went under concrete from soil.

"I didn't have a phone on me, so I called at a neighbour's house who brought a torch and a spade to try and dig her out.

"It was a tense couple of hours. I could hear her under there yapping, whining and scratching at the soil with her front feet..." - owner Elizabeth Dowson

"I could see her, she was about 10ft through the hole, just out of reach, facing backwards and unable to shuffle out."

Having dialled 999 at about 5pm, Miss Dowson said she faced an anxious wait as crews battled to free Fly.

"It was a tense couple of hours," she said. "I could hear her under there yapping, whining and scratching at the soil with her front feet.

"But after about an hour it went quiet, I thought she'd had a heart attack."

Neil Ryder, red watch manager at Sittingbourne station, said after the crew had broken up the concrete floor, one member took to his hands and knees to move earth and create a bigger space for the dog to escape.

A call went out to Maidstone's Urban Search and Rescue Unit, and it was just after the team arrived and started setting up its equipment that the dog was finally freed at about 7.30pm.

Red watch manger Neil Ryder

Red watch manger Neil Ryder

Miss Dowson, a self-employed gardener, said: "It brought a lump to my throat when they got her out, I was so relieved.

"She did something similar when she went down a 30ft denehole when she was 18 months-old.

"I'lll be keeping her on a lead for a while, but she does love a run about so I'll have to let her off eventually."

She added: "I'm proud of what the fire brigade did and thank them again for getting her out safely."

Mr Ryder added: "When we first turned up I thought it could be a long, drawn-out incident due to the thickness of the concrete.

"But the crews worked extremely well and hard for three hours and managed to rescue the dog uninjured from the rabbit hole and reunite it with its owner who was extremely pleased.

"That's what we call a perfect outcome to an incident."

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