A dog was left looking sheepish after he got trapped down a disused badger sett – and had to be rescued by the RSPCA and Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Alvin, a nine-year-old Jack Russell terrier, was on a walk with his owner in woods behind Letchfield, in Ley Hill, Chesham, when he came across a hole in the ground.

When his owner Caron Cullen turned round, the pooch couldn’t be seen – but he could be heard whimpering.

Caron called her husband Ian, who immediately joined her to search for Alvin.

Ian said: “We regularly walk Alvin there and never have any problems, but on this one occasion my wife was also walking our daughter’s two dogs and our son’s dog, who likes to chase everything. This led to three of the dogs shooting off and Alvin following.

“Three dogs appeared seconds later covered in sand, but there was no sign of Alvin – who is usually very good at coming back to us.

“We just didn’t know which hole he went down as there were so many. We didn’t know what to do. We knew he was nearby as we could hear the smallest of whimpering. We called the fire service and the RSPCA came too.”

The fire service had a camera on a pole ready to have a look down the holes – but it first needed to be established that the badger sett wasn’t active, as badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

RSPCA inspector Jaime Godfrey inspected the setts and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t an active sett, as there were no signs to suggest badgers were nearby. However, to be sure, he contacted the local badger group. A representative from the group joined them and also came to the conclusion that the sett was inactive.

Inspector Godfrey said: “We were given the OK for the fire service to stick a camera down the hole and that’s when we discovered that Alvin was about three metres in. He had obviously gone down there but then got confused by the maze of tunnels and didn’t know which way to turn.

“The camera had a light on it and Alvin decided to follow the light all the way out of the tunnel. We were all so relieved as we were worried that he could have gotten his collar caught on a root, but thankfully he had only got a little disorientated.

“It was so lovely when he came out, uninjured. He looked a little sheepish though and a bit bemused that so many people were there trying to rescue him!”

Ian added: “After all the effort, it was such a relief to get Alvin back. He was whimpering as though he was hurt but he must have just been scared. He was a bit quiet after his ordeal but we don’t think he’ll be going down any holes again!”

James Tuffley, Red Watch Commander from Aylesbury Fire Station, said: “Our Animal Rescue and Urban Search and Rescue crews attended and used listening equipment and cameras under the direction of the RSPCA and a badger expert.

“We coaxed Alvin out using the light from a search camera, which gave him something to focus on after he became confused and disoriented in the darkness.of the tunnel. We were very pleased to have helped bring about a safe and what turned out to be relatively easy rescue.”

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