A “Miracle” dog has survived a fall of 164 feet (50 metres) down an abandoned mineshaft after landing on grass cuttings that had been dumped there over the years.
The two-year old sprocker spaniel, Iso, who lives with his owner Brian Saunders in Falmouth, plunged down the abandoned shaft near Redruth after chasing a rabbit into the undergrowth.
He fell a distance equal to the height of the tower at Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum or nearly three times the height of the landmark Observatory Tower in Victoria Cottages, Falmouth – and ended up with injuries no worse than a gash on his head.
The drama began when owner Brian Saunders, 77, who lives in Trevethan Road, had taken Iso with him while he played a quick nine holes at Radnor Golf Course on Saturday lunchtime.
As soon as he let him out of the car, Iso spotted a cat and set off in hot pursuit.
Despite losing the trail of his feline foe, the two-year-old sprocker immediately scented a rabbit and disappeared into bushes – and was not seen again for more than 24 hours.
Brian said: “We spent the afternoon calling around houses in the area to let them know he was missing and to ask them to keep an eye out for him.
“One of the last houses we went to was right at the entrance of the golf club, and unbeknown to me, it had two abandoned mineshafts in the garden.
“No one had seen anything, so we had to give up and go back to Falmouth.
“It was a horrible night, the house felt empty.
“The next day, I got a phone call at 1pm – 24 hours after Iso had disappeared, from a lady asking if I was the man who had lost his dog.
“She said they thought they had found him – and that he was down a mineshaft in their gardens.
“Her husband had heard barking, and dismissed it as a dog in the distance, but he then heard whimpering, and realised there was a dog in the shaft.
“I called the fire brigade, and was stunned to find they had arrived already when I got there.
“They sent down a probe to him to see if he was OK, but couldn’t hear anything. I whistled him twice, but there was no reaction, so I spoke to him, asking him what he was doing running down a mineshaft.
“As soon as I said it he started barking.”
A fireman was lowered into the mine, and, using a net bag, brought a shaken, but largely uninjured Iso back to the surface.
It is thought Iso survived the huge fall thanks to a pile of vegetation cuttings at the bottom of the shaft, which formed a spongy base for him to land on.
Brian said: “He was so happy to be out, he was jumping up and licking my face.
“I took him home and washed the cut on his head, and he has been fine – if a little bit more subdued than normal.
“I took him to the vet on Monday, who could not believe it, she said it was a miracle.
“If there had been stone at the bottom of the shaft, he would be dead.”
Grant Nicholls, watch manager of Black Watch at Camborne fire station supervised the rescue.
He said: “It was a difficult rescue, it was one of the deeper mineshafts we have worked in, and there was a tree growing across the top making access awkward.
“We were amazed to see Iso come out without any serious injuries – it was a long way to fall. Spaniels are very durable dogs I guess, but it was a surprise to see it come out fine.”
Brian said he was amazed by the work of the crew. He said: “They were brilliant, they deserve all the praise they can get.”