On this day in Yorkshire 1951: Leeds fireman saved dog from disused shaft - then it bit him

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A Leeds fireman was lowered on ropes into a disused pit shaft near Brown Lane, Leeds, yesterday to rescue a black cross-bred dog believed to have been thrown into the shaft.

Fireman Eric Buckle, who made the descent, found the dog balanced on a small piece of floating wood about 30ft. down the shaft. As he brought it to the top it bit his hand and ran away.

“I do not think the dog could have balanced on the wood for very much longer,” he said. “It was only about one foot long and a few inches wide and looked like the end of a railway sleeper. The dog was very frightened and had obviously been in the water.”

The dog’s plight was first noticed early on Sunday morning by a Leeds police officer. P.C. T. Collinson. He heard barking, traced it to the shaft, and in the light of his torch saw the dog standing on the floating piece of wood.

For more than an hour four police officers, led by Inspector A. Hill, of Meadow Lane Division, working in the light of electric torches, tried to rescue the dog. Standing on a plank thrown across the mouth of the shaft, they used drag ropes in an attempt to lassoo it.

Inspector Hill told “The Yorkshire Post”: “ Twice we managed to get the rope around its neck, but when we started to pull the dog slipped its neck out the noose. Eventually we warned the fire station.

“Throughout the night police officers visited the shaft to make certain that the dog was still standing on the piece of wood.”

When the fire brigade were called Sub-Officer N. G. Turner went to the shaft with Firemen Buckle, J. Balance and C. Snell.

Inspector H. W. Courtney, of the R.S.P.C.A., who was also there, told The Yorkshire Post that Fireman Buckle was fastened into a rescue sling and lowered into the shaft by his colleagues, helped by Police Sergeant A. H. Blann.

He described the dog as a cross between a terrier and a spaniel.

Sergeant Blann said that the shaft, a circular one, was about eight feet across. “The water is believed to be a great depth and it was a risky business for Fireman Buckle.” he said.

He did not think the dog could have got into the shaft on its own. “We had to climb an eight-foot wall see into the shaft,” he said, “ and I can only assume the dog had been thrown into the water.”

The police are making inquiries to discover the owner of the dog. It had no collar.

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