Dachshund leads emergency services on eight-hour wild puppy chase

Some of the rescuers searching for the elusive Pepper Credit: Southend Coastguard

Emergency services spent eight hours trying to rescue a dachshund puppy from mud flats near Southend.

The seven-month-old, named Pepper, had run onto Leigh marshes at around 11am on Saturday, 24 October.

What followed was a major multi-agency operation as Pepper led coastguard, RNLI and firefighters on a wild dachshund chase.

The rescuers first port of call was the Southend Hovercraft, which could skim across the muddy terrain looking for the puppy.

The RNLI crew were able to locate Pepper but after two and half hours still had not managed to grab her.

Pepper hid among the marshes and ditches around Leigh Credit: Southend Coastguard

Pepper, having eluded capture so far, decided to lie low, disappearing on Two Tree Island - a nature reserve in Leigh - for three hours.

Struggling to find her, the emergency services called in more firepower in the form of Essex Fire and Rescue's thermal imaging camera and water rescue team.

The team narrowed in on an area of the marsh containing several deep ditches, and Pepper made a break for it, shooting out of one of the ditches and evading capture once again.

With the tide now coming in, Pepper's would-be rescuers knew time was running out. They chased her towards the shoreline, where she would be hemmed in by the rising water.

But the crafty puppy was one step ahead again, finding a sandbank which quickly became an island as the tide rose.

The fire service rescuers quietly approaching Pepper's island Credit: Southend Coastguard

Aware of the fading light, the fire service resorted to stealth rather than speed. The team launched a raft which could be pushed or paddled, as opposed to one with an engine which could have startled Pepper into making a dash for it.

Finally, after eight hours at large, Pepper was back in custody, snatched by the fire crew "with minutes to spare", according to a report by Southend Coastguard.

Back in her owner's arms, Pepper was rewarded with a selection of treats for finally agreeing to come quietly. Who knows whether she is already plotting her next break for freedom...

Safely back in her owner's arms - but already plotting her next escape? Credit: Southend Coastguard