A dog was rescued from a hole on Shipley Glen last night after being trapped for 53 hours.
Golden labrador Zak was plucked – cold, wet and muddy – from the six-foot deep, five-inch wide crevice in Baildon by firefighters who had spent almost nine hours drilling through rocks.
About 40 people – including former Leeds Rhinos rugby league star Keith Senior – had gathered at the scene and cheered and applauded when Zak was freed.
The 18-month-old dog had disappeared at 2.30pm on New Year’s Day, but lay face down in the hole undiscovered for about 47 hours.
He was eventually found at about 1pm yesterday by Craig Pennington’s border collie Moe. Mr Pennington had taken the afternoon off work to help look for Zak.
Moments after Zak was released at 7.50 last night, owner Andrew Eastell said: “I am so enthralled to have him back – I’m ready for a beer!
“Thank you so much to everyone who has helped these past couple of days.”
Daughter Hettie, 17, said: “It is absolutely amazing, I cannot thank the firemen enough. I am so relieved – it is just a dream.”
The drama began when Mr Eastell was kicking a football around with Zak and his twin sister Lola.
Mr Eastell said he turned his head briefly after kicking the ball for the dogs, but when he turned back round Zak had vanished.
Scared Zak had been pinched or fallen down a hill chasing a squirrel, Mr Eastell frantically searched the area but could not find the much-loved dog before darkness fell at about 5pm.
Desperate, Mr Eastell posted Zak’s plight on Facebook, before notifying police, the dog warden and animal rescue. Pictures of Zak were also put on Baildon Veterinary Centre’s Facebook page. The centre is run by Jill Fraser, partner of Craig Pennington.
Mr Eastell, of Rylstone Road, Baildon, said: “After that it just took off, it was massive. It ended up all over Twitter as well.”
One of Mr Eastell’s neighbours, Natalie Berry, heard what was going on and asked her partner – Keith Senior – to post a plea to his 21,000 followers on Twitter.
But despite reported sightings, Mr Eastell was beginning to give up hope. However, he said: “I had an inkling and went down to the Glen again, where I met Craig.”
Mr Eastell and Mr Pennington had never met before, but the latter had decided to bring his dog up to help search for Zak.
“Moe likes sniffing around,” said Mr Pennington. “She came to the exact spot first of all, but it was just thick heather. After another look around, she came back to the same spot – she knew something was here.
“I scraped back the heather and saw the back end of a dog. I knew that if the dog was here, Moe would find it – and she did.”
Mr Eastell said: “I am so, so grateful for all the help. I cannot put into words how brilliant people have been.”
His wife, Susan Eastell, told how Zak was a member of the family and shouted her thanks to everyone when the dog was rescued. But she added: “We have lived around here for nearly 30 years, but never knew of these holes under the heather.
“It could have been a small child that fell down there.”
Watch commander Dan Gledhill, of Cleckheaton fire station, led a team of 11 firefighters in the technical rescue unit on the operation. He said: “They were great. A good outcome is the main thing. We are relieved the dog is out successfully and it looks like it is going to be OK.”
Zak was rushed off to the vets’ for a check-up immediately after the drama.