Dog stuck in a badger sett for a week reunited with Coulsdon family
A BELOVED family dog who spent an entire week underground after getting stuck in a badger hole has been reunited with his owners.
Bedraggled Buster the Jack Russell found his way back to his loving home in Mead Way, Coulsdon, on Wednesday morning – after a week when the rescue efforts of the fire brigade, animal experts and even a plumbing company were scuppered by badger protection laws.
The dog, which by a bizarre twist of fate is nicknamed Badger due to his distinctive black eye patch, spent seven days underground while a high-tech search operation went on above him.
Thankfully, he emerged unaided and unscathed – save for a nasty badger bite.
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Owner Cathy Taylor told the Advertiser: "My daughter, Bethany, was at home this morning when she saw him running down the steps at the back.
"He is covered in mud, very shaky and has a bad bite on his back. But he is smiling and still such a character."
The Taylor family's epic efforts to rescue the six-year-old included enlisting the help of firefighters and even a plumbing company, but strict badger protection rules meant they could only dig if they could pinpoint Buster's whereabouts, so the sett could be repaired.
Mrs Taylor explained: "On Friday, we got permission from Natural England over the phone for a licence to dig to rescue him, if we could find him.
"The fire brigade came out and put a camera down the hole and used some listening equipment. We could hear him panting but could not pinpoint exactly where he was.
"On Saturday I called Dyno-Rod, the plumbing company. We put the camera down and could see a mole and some rabbit eyes, but no Buster."
The family and badger protection expert Warwick Reynolds spent hours over the next few days listening for "that critical whimper" from the dog, encouraged by tales of dogs reappearing after 40 days down setts.
They also hoped Buster, who they admit is a little "on the podgy side", could slim down and wriggle his own way out.
This appears to have happened, as the family dog eventually found his own way home.
Speaking earlier in the week before Buster's reappearance, Mrs Taylor said: "It is heartbreaking to think of him down there.
"At least he is comforted because he can hear us and knows we have not deserted him."
She added: "People must think we are mad because we are up in the woods looking down a badger hole, calling down 'Badger'."
Mrs Taylor was at work at nearby Coulsdon College when Bethany, 17, phoned to say the family's long-lost pet had come home.
"I just ran back as fast as my legs would take me," said Cathy.
"I keep looking at him and asking if it is actually him. It does not seem real."