A DOG who had been missing for almost two weeks was reunited with his owners last night (August 31), all thanks to a chance sighting by Minehead's volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew.
Sprig the springer spaniel appeared none the worse for the experience of spending more than a week trapped on a rocky ledge at the foot of the highest sea cliffs in England.
Nine-year-old Sprig was spotted by the crew of Minehead’s Atlantic 85 class boat while on exercise yesterday morning close to Foreland Point, in North Devon.
They had taken the boat close into the cliffs after noticing a sheep that was apparently trapped but were just turning away when a movement some way 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 up to Sprig. Minehead’s D-class boat – designed for working close inshore – was then called in so the dog could be lowered down safely.
Mr Escott added: “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.”
It was only after Sprig had been taken back to Minehead lifeboat station and given food and water that it became clear he had been the subject of a major search by his owners, Mark and Susie Sanders, from Wheddon Cross, near Minehead.
They and their family had organised search parties and scoured the area around Foreland Point after the dog disappeared during a walk there on August 22.
They had plastered the area with posters appealing for any sightings while local fishing boats and an animal ambulance team from North Devon had checked along the shoreline.
Mrs Sanders said: “We were coming to the conclusion that he must have wandered off and then been stolen.
“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.”