A 15-month old dog, called 'Sadie' has reappeared on her owner's doorstep after spending an astonishing 17 days trapped in a badger set.
Sadie - a Patterdale Terrier - was out walking with her owner's children on moorland at the end of May in Trewelland, near Penzance in Cornwall when she disappeared down the set and failed to re-appear.
After a frantic search by RSPCA Inspector Paul Kempson and Sadie's owner Karen Paynter, the rescue had to be abandoned.
"The badger set was large, with around fifteen entrance holes," said Inspector Kempson. "We couldn't hear any noise despite constantly calling out her name and the area around the set was overgrown with bramble and gorse bushes. It was a real effort but eventually we had to give up.
"Rescuing dogs that become trapped underground can be very difficult and dangerous not only the for dog but also for our inspectors. Dealingwith a distressed pet at the same time and possibly a badger creates quite a challenge."
Badger sets are protected by law, so the RSPCA would have to apply to DEFRA for a license to dig out a pet, if after forty eight hours it knew the dog was still stuck.
"In this case it was just not possible to confirm Sadie was still underground, so we couldn't get a license," said Inspector Kempson.
"We continued to visit the site each day, but became increasingly concerned because the dog had a muzzle on and would be unable to feed.
"Then Mrs Paynter rang us to say that at 5 am on 16 June -seventeen days after Sadie went missing - she was woken by a crying noise outside her door. To her huge surprise Sadie was standing there, The dog was in a real state because she had lost a lot of weight. Her head looked larger than her body and she was covered in fleas and ticks, but otherwise was okay.
After a thorough veterinary examination she was given the all clear to go home, where she immediately went to sleep. Karen and her children are thrilled to have her back safely at home.
RSPCA Chief Inspector, Les Sutton added: "This is a remarkable story of survival considering Sadie was trapped underground for such a long period and wearing a muzzle. Yet she was able to survive and extricate herself from such a predicament.
"Usually dogs in these circumstances manage to get themselves free after four to six days, Sadie is a very lucky dog."