The RSPCA helped to rescue a springer spaniel from deep inside a foxhole in the scrub area at the back of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath in London.
The black and white Springer spaniel apparently dashed through a hole in the fence surrounding a restricted area where gardeners keep their equipment at the historic house last Wednesday (23 January).
The owner realised there was a problem when she reached a mound with a foxes den burrowed in it. One of the tunnel entrances had collapsed and the owner became convinced that her dog was buried under tons of earth.
Firefighters from West Hampstead fire station were called and they contacted RSPCA animal collection officer Jill Sanders to accompany them.
A thermal imaging camera was used to find the dog and then the firefighters dug for about an hour to move the collapsed earth.
RSPCA ACO Sanders said: “They were expecting the dog to run out to its owner but it stayed put and one of the firefighters had to squeeze inside the tunnel.
“He went in about nine feet before he was able to catch the dog.
“He then wriggled back until his colleagues could catch hold of his feet and haul him and the dog out.
“I checked the dog over and then handed it back to its panicked owner.”
A spokesperson for the Brigade said: “Whilst we’re glad the dog was OK, we’d like to remind people that if they see an animal stuck somewhere, their first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services. When our firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’re not available to attend emergencies.
“Animal rescues are also costly, which is something we’re keen to avoid in these tough financial times.”
The hole left by their excavations has been boarded up and a small hole left for the foxes to continue coming in and out.