Old sea dog survives cliffs ordeal

Sprig, pictured with his rescuers, was reunited with his owners after spending more than a week trapped at sea (RNLI Minehead/PA)

Sprig, pictured with his rescuers, was reunited with his owners after spending more than a week trapped at sea (RNLI Minehead/PA)

First published in National News © by

A springer spaniel has been reunited with his owners - after spending more than a week trapped at sea.

Sprig was rescued after an RNLI crew spotted the dog trapped on a rocky ledge at the foot of the highest sea cliffs in England.

The nine-year-old had disappeared during a walk with his owners, Mark and Susie Sanders, at Foreland Point in north Devon on August 22.

Mr and Mrs Sanders had organised search parties, scoured the area for any signs of the dog and put up posters appealing for help.

Local fishing boats and an animal ambulance team from north Devon had also checked along the shoreline but could not find Sprig.

He was finally located thanks to a chance sighting by Minehead's volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew, who were out on patrol on Sunday in their Atlantic 85 class boat.

The team had taken the boat close into the cliffs after noticing a sheep that was apparently trapped and were just turning away when a movement below the animal caught their eye.

Helmsman Andrew Escott said: "We went in as close as we could and then we could see it was a dog. It was about 30 feet above the water and we couldn't work out how it had got in that position."

Mr Escott managed to jump ashore and climb to Sprig, while Minehead's D-class boat - designed for working close inshore - was called so the dog could be lowered down safely.

"He had clearly been there for some time because he was licking water off my dry suit. And he did seem rather pleased to see us," Mr Escott added.

It was only after Sprig had been taken back to Minehead lifeboat station and given food and water that it became apparent he had been the subject of a major search.

Mr and Mrs Sanders, from Wheddon Cross, near Minehead, were amazed to be reunited with Sprig after believing he was lost forever.

"We were coming to the conclusion that he must have wandered off and then been stolen," Mrs Sanders said.

"I just could not believe it when we had a call to say the lifeboat crew had spotted him and rescued him. It's amazing: the best news ever. Bless them."

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