Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 12:10 UK

Family dog 'saved' girl in drain

Leona Baxter with Brophy
Leona Baxter with 10-month-old Brophy, who is feared drowned

A pet dog could have saved the life of a young girl who was sucked 150ft (46m) along an underground drain in a County Durham park.

Leona Baxter, three, was playing in a puddle in Chester-le-Street when she disappeared down an uncovered drain.

Her father believes the family dog, who was also pulled in by the force of the water, dislodged the child allowing her to be "spat" out into the River Wear.

The 10-month-old boxer-mastiff cross Brophy is now feared drowned.

Mark Baxter, 34, of Leeming, North Yorkshire, said he believed the dog may have saved his daughter's life.

"He's a big dog, and when he got sucked through, the force of him hitting her has unsnagged her and spat her out," he said.

Leona was treated at the University Hospital of North Durham for a cut to her head, but has now returned to the family home.

The pet has not been seen since the incident on Sunday.


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