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Digger used to free trapped dog

19 April 2007 - BBC News

A mechanical digger was brought in to rescue a dog that had been trapped underground for a week.

Under the glare of arc lights, the machine shifted 10 tonnes of earth to create a series of trenches to find three-year-old Lakeland Terrier, Tyke.

A firm supplied the equipment for the operation after being contacted by the dog's owner Stephen Walling.

Tyke had gone missing down a badger sett while being walked in Castleside, County Durham.

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 bans anyone from interfering with a sett and a licence needs to be granted.

Natural England spokesman Jim Milner said it granted the licence because it was a satellite badger sett, rather than the main one.

He said: "In that situation there was a live dog down there which everyone knew was alive. From the badger point of view the fact that it wasn't a main sett meant that there was less risk to the badger. It was probably not a breeding sett."

He said an officer supervised the work and found no sign of current badger activity. The sett also had to be reinstated after the work.

Mr Walling got in touch with Mechplant North East Ltd to ask them for help. When all the permissions were granted they moved on to the site on Wednesday afternoon with a 360 degree excavator. The company provided its services free of charge.

Managing director Stephen Makinson said: "It was really a cry for help from the dog's owner on Tuesday. At first we were a bit hesitant because there were various bodies involved but once we were told all the people involved had given their permission we moved one of our machines there. It's certainly not what we usually do as a construction company. We don't often get people saying can you come and rescue my dog. It has been good."

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