A family pet which was trapped in a fox trap for more than three weeks survived only by licking up drops of rainwater.
The Gornall family from Hothersall, Longridge, near Preston, are furious whoever placed the trap in fields close to their home never bothered to check if anything was caught in it.
A police wildlife officer says nine-year-old black Labrador Bessie is only alive because of the wet British summer – and if the predicted hot weather had arrived she would have died.
It is believed the live catch cage trap, found at the bottom of a deep-sided valley in farmland, was laid with bait to catch a fox.
Twenty-four days after Bessie went missing on July 9, police said a man out walking heard noises he believed were coming from a dog. He discovered Bessie trapped in the cage.
Bessie’s owners, Dave and Donna Gornall and their daughters Olivia, six, and five-year-old Katie, had been desperately searching for their pet and had put up appeals for information around the area.
Donna said the family was “overjoyed” to have her back after receiving a phone call informing them of the discovery.
She added: “I realise foxes have to be caught and I have no problem with that, but they deserve to die humanely. They don’t deserve to starve for three-and-a-half weeks.
“These traps are supposed to be checked every 24 hours by law. The fact that it had not been checked for three-and-a-half weeks is just ridiculous.
“I would not like anyone else to go through what we have gone through.”
Despite being found underweight, covered in leg sores and having lost some of her fur from rubbing up against the cage, Bessie is now eating, drinking and on the mend.
The family say they know she has been trapped for more than three weeks because “she doesn’t go missing and not come home”.
Donna added: “She does wander to my mum’s, which is half a mile away, but we scoured the area between here and there and there was no sign of her.”
Ribble and Hodder Valley wildlife officer PC Carl Chew said: “The dog is lucky to be alive. If the weather had been the hot summer predicted, she would not have survived.
“It is very lucky she was discovered when she was because it is believed the owner of the trap had either forgot about it or just wasn’t bothered.”
Anyone with information can call police on 01772 209581 or 782625.