Dog sparks six-hour search after being 'sucked down sewer drain' in North Devon

The four-year-old was found after a six-hour search
The four-year-old was found after a six-hour search Credit: BPM Media

A dog survived after being sucked into a tidal sewage pipe in North Devon.

Denver was being walked when he disappeared down a storm drain at the Watertown end of Northam Burrows on Tuesday 13 September.

The four-year-old Labrador’s owner, Fred Palmer from Bideford, said Denver would often play by the water.

The 73-year-old said: "He's a water baby, he's played there before, he runs up and down, up and down.

"Denver was there playing in the water, then I spoke to my friend, turned back and he was gone. The water had sucked him in, he was gone."

Fred said Denver likes to play by the water Credit: BPM Media

Fred and his friend immediately realised what had happened and went in opposite directions to see if Denver had come out of the other end of the pipe.

People joined the search with fire officers, local vets and a team from South West Water in a rescue operation.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said: "Fire control received a call from a member of the public regarding a dog that had been swept into a tidal sewage pipe with fast running water.

"One fire engine from Appledore and the specialist rescue vehicle from Barnstaple attended the incident alongside officers.

"Crews got to work attempting to reduce the flow of water in the sewer pipe, with a spotter in place upstream and downstream, monitoring the tide."

After more than six hours of searching a fire officer spotted Denver inside the culvert.

The Labrador managed to swim down the drain, before climbing onto a ledge, above the flow of water.

Fred immediately jumped inside the culvert to help fire crews coax Denver out.

He said: "I kept shouting and shouting, then I heard a splash. I put some treats on the water, then when he was four feet away I leaned forward and grabbed him."

"It was better than winning the lottery. He was licking my face and jumping up at me and giving everybody kisses."

Denver was rescued after being spotted in a culvert Credit: BPM Media

Denver has been to the vet for a thorough checkup and was found to be fit and well, with nothing more than a small cut on his paw, although he is currently under the vet's orders to rest.

Fred says he's been blown away but the support he and his wife, Pam, have received from well-wishers, including a stack of 'get well' cards.

He said: "Support from the local community has been amazing, I can't thank everybody enough."

A South West Water spokesperson said: “We would like to thank our colleagues who assisted with the rescue of a dog on Northam Burrows yesterday.

"The team provided equipment and cameras to help the Fire Brigade with the rescue and thankfully the dog was found safe and well.

"We will be carrying out investigations to determine how the dog entered the pipe to ensure this does not happen again."