A TINY five-week-old puppy drove his owners around the bend after falling down a drain and sparking a four-hour-long rescue.
The cute Jack Russell/shih tzu cross, which has yet to be named, got lost down a pipe after clambering inside a drain hole in its owners’ back garden.
The puppy’s plight led to the back yard being dug up by firefighters and council staff being drafted in to insert cameras 50ft down three public manholes nearby after fears it could have got lost in the sewage system.
The drama began around 10am yesterday when the owner called the fire brigade.
Nine crew members and two appliances from Peterlee Fire Station were involved in the rescue operation as well as staff from Durham County Council’s flood and coastal protection unit.
The 32-year-old owner, who did not wish to be named, said: “I went to put the four pups back in their cage and noticed one was missing.
“I was looking around to see whether it might have hidden then I heard this whimpering coming from the hole.
“I put my arm down to see if I could find him but I just couldn’t get to him.
“I started freaking out and rang the fire brigade.”
When firefighters arrived, there were fears the dog could have made its way further into the underground pipe system.
They spent four hours trying various methods to get to the pooch, including putting a camera down a soil hole at the property in Brackendale Close, Station Town, digging up sections of the yard and having council staff use a camera to help find the pup.
Paul Knox, district manager for the Easington division of Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We could hear the dog whimpering and it was in a very distressed state.
“At times it went too quiet and things started to look a bit negative.”
But at 1.45pm, the dog was finally pulled free by hero fireman Steve Sennett – three feet down from the spot where it originally vanished.
He said: “I’m just glad there’s been a happy ending.”
The relieved owner said: “I can’t thank them enough.”
The dog, which the owner is thinking about naming Lucky, had to be treated with heat lamps and oxygen but it is hoped it will make a full recovery. It was later reunited with his mum, Rusty.