Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 08:29 UK

Enforced diet gives dog freedom

Jake with his happy owner Jill Thomas
Jake reunited at last with his happy owner Jill Thomas

A dog was trapped underground in a rabbit warren for 25 days until he lost so much weight in his enforced diet that he was able to crawl out.

The well-fed Jack Russell called Jake was feared dead after he disappeared into the tunnel chasing a rabbit near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.

For nearly a month he was trapped until he lost an estimated quarter of his weight and was able to scramble out.

Grateful owner Jill Thomas, 52, said it was "incredible he survived".

Mrs Thomas said she and husband Rick were "so glad" to have the six-year-old home.

"He's a lot thinner but very happy."

It was a joyous moment - until we saw him. He was in a terrible state.
Owner Jill Thomas

The mother-of-one explained: "Jake was out walking with my husband one day when he trotted off and vanished out of sight around the rabbit holes.

"Rick looked everywhere for him but they were about six miles from home and he had no choice but to return without him.

"We put posters up everywhere and advertised for information about him but we heard nothing.

"Once three weeks had gone by we gave up hope of ever seeing him again."

After 25 days, Jake managed to break free and walk to a farm at nearby Woodstock where the farmer's children had heard about the missing Jack Russell.

Jake was trapped underground for 25 days
Jake was trapped underground for 25 days

Mrs Thomas then had a call to say Jake had been found just 500 yards from where he went missing.

She said: "It was a joyous moment - until we saw him. He was in a terrible state.

"We took him to a vet who believes that Jake had got jammed into a burrow and had only come unstuck after a 25-day starvation diet.

"They put him on a drip and warned us that he had lost so much bodyweight he may not survive."

Jake's eyes were sunken, his muscles had withered away and he had no saliva left to lick his owners.

The family believe Jake lost a quarter of his body weight - about 2kg or 4lb 6oz - during his ordeal.

Fencing contractor Mr Thomas, 53, said: "He was skin and bone and it was touch and go for a while. But he's a fit little dog and he slowly recovered."

The amazing tale of his underground survival has made Jake a local celebrity with well-wishers sending him cards, presents and a juicy bone.

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