Monday 24th February 2020 12:00
The emotional moment an engineer from Thames Water helped rescue a dog stuck underground for three days is to feature in a new BBC One series called Saved on Camera.
Spencer got trapped after running more than 100 metres into an abandoned drainage pipe in Tilsley Park, Abingdon, in February 2018.
The spaniel was pulled out alive by Jason Major after a desperate search-and-rescue mission that attracted widespread national media coverage at the time, and safely returned to owners Kat and James Athey.
Jason was later reunited with Kat and Spencer at the park in Dunmore Road as the BBC recorded scenes for the new series which starts on Monday, March 2. The episode featuring Jason and Spencer will be broadcast on Monday, March 9.
Jason, a technical specialist based at Oxford Sewage Works, said: “It was great to meet Kat and Spencer again in much more relaxed circumstances. It was nice to see him wagging his tail and clearly enjoying life after his brush with death.
“Kat told me he’s a little bit older and wiser, and now steers clear of the pipe when they go for a walk through the park, which is great news for his health and mine! It was such a tense, nerve-wracking, few days trying to locate him and get him out.
“We didn’t know if he was dead or alive as he had gone quiet as he tried to conserve his energy, so it was such a relief to pull him out safe and sound and reunite him with Kat and the rest of his family.”
The drama unfolded as Spencer disappeared into a private disused pipe next to a ditch alongside a new sports pitch during a walk. Thames Water, along with contractors Lanes, Cappagh Browne and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called in to spearhead the rescue mission.
Special cameras located Spencer alive beneath the AstroTurf pitch and heat generated by the light on the CCTV survey camera kept him warm while engineers hatched a plan. Abingdon School, which owns the site, gave permission for the team to dig up the pitch and cut a hole in the pipe to save the much-loved pet.
Spencer was placed in a blanket and taken to the vets. He was found to be dehydrated and placed on a fluid drip for a time but, other than that, he was okay to go home. Speaking at the time, Kat said: "It's been an emotional rollercoaster, we're so glad to have him back safe. Thank you to everyone."