A lucky dog which plunged 30ft down a disused mineshaft was saved by firefighters – who found him using the scent of another POOCH.
Black Labrador Barney was bounding across a country park when the earth suddenly gave way and he fell down a hole.
Owner Alan Knight-Smith, 56, was walking Barney with his other black Labrador Gibson on Apedale Country Park, Staffs., when the accident happened near a popular footpath in Watermills Wood.
Incredibly, firefighters managed to locate five-and-a-half-year-old Barney in the pitch black hole using the scent of Gibson.
Female firefighter Vicky Poole rubbed her hand on Gibson’s fur before being lowered into the hole and when the terrified dog smelt his mate he bounded over to her.
Barney was winched out of the pit unharmed after a two-hour operation involving 14 firefighters on Sunday afternoon.
Retired police officer Alan, from Alsagers Bank, Staffs., said: “One minute Barney was bounding off into the bracken, the next he was gone.
“I dialled 999 and asked for the fire service and tried to explain what had happened.
“I couldn’t see a thing because it was pitch black, but I could hear Barney whimpering from the bottom of the pit.
“At the time I guessed it was about 10ft but I was way out.
“I’ve been coming here for 50 years – since I was a boy.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before but you do see former mine shafts being discovered all the time.
“It was quite a big opening so it’s just lucky that it wasn’t a child.
“It was a miracle that Barney wasn’t hurt, but he is totally back to normal.
“As soon as he got out he picked up a stick and that was that. He’s only five-and-a-half so that probably helped.
“Gibson is 11 so he probably would have been injured.
“I will obviously keep walking on the park every day, but I would recommend to anyone visiting old mine areas to stick to the designated paths.”
Firefighter Vicky was lowered into the narrow hole where she located Barney and secured a harness around his body before being winched to the surface.
Alan added: “I can’t praise the work of firefighter Poole and the entire crew highly enough.
“She went over to Gibson beforehand so Barney would be able to smell his scent on her.
“Gibson seemed to know something was wrong.
“Firefighter Poole was very professional and efficient and got him out without any injuries. I really can’t thank them enough for their hard work.
“The fire service has come on leaps and bounds, they do a fantastic job.”
Vicky said: “It was good to see our training and expertise put into practice so successfully.
“Rescues of this kind are quite unusual and they really are a team effort.
“The most important thing was securing the area and making sure that Barney was unhurt.”