A camera used to try and locate a terrier that had become trapped down a hole ended up saving its life after the dog clamped its jaws around the device and was eventually dragged to the surface.

Bitsy, a black terrier was being exercised on allotments in Heywood, Greater Manchester, by his owner when he bolted down a hole after a fox shortly after 1pm last Sunday.

His worried owner spent until 7pm that evening trying to locate Bitsy but when he failed to do so, he called the fire services.

At first light the following morning,a fire crew from Heywood, accompanied by three flexible duty officers, including Kirk Cornwall -a specialist in animal recovery operations – and an RSPCA representative.

“We decided to take specialistequipment normally used to locate casualties following a building collapse,” explains Kirk. “We were all concerned because the dog hadn’t been heard since the previous day.”

Using a pierpoint camera, officers threaded over metres of cable downvarious holes in an attempt to find Bitsy.

After nearly two hours everyone concerned was becoming disillusioned. “We were on the verge of giving up,” says Kirk. “We hadn’t heard a sound from the dog since our arrival and had got to the point where we thought we would be bringing up a deceased dog.

“Finally after threading around 5m down another hole, the camera came to an abrupt halt and wouldn’t go any further, ” explains Kirk.

“As the camera stopped the operator felt some resistance that continued as the camera was pulled back to the surface. To everyone’s astonishment Bitsy had bitten the end of the camera and allowed it to drag him to the surface.”

Bitsy emerged from the hole seemingly none the worse for his24-hour ordeal.

“We all learnt an important lesson from this rescue – just because an animal hasn’t been heard, this doesn’t mean they’re not alive,” says Kirk.

“We were delighted he was found alive and well because at one point we all believed he was dead.”