A RELIEVED dog owner has praised the "impeccable" work of firefighters who rescued his pet which had plunged ten metres down an old well.

Jan Palejowski had been out on the Longdon Boxing Day Shoot, near Upton-upon-Severn, when seven-year-old Lilly disappeared in woodland, stumbling into the overgrown well.

After a two-and-a-half-hour search Mr Palejowski, who has had Lilly for around three years, managed to find her and called the fire brigade to hoist the cocker spaniel - who was unhurt, except for a grazed eye - to safety.

"We literally got on our hands and knees and combed the area," said Mr Palejowski, from Shipton-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire.

He continued: "It was completely covered by briar and brambles - it is not the sort of place you would normally walk.

"We found the well shaft, then one of the group said I have got a torch. We attached the torch to the rope and lowered it down.

"At 10 metres we could just see the bottom of the shaft, we could see the dog then. We were going to try and get the dog out ourselves."

However, the group decided to alert Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, and specialist fire crews from Droitwich, Malvern and Pershore, along with a team from Upton, descended on the scene at around 1.30pm.

Lilly, who is a trained field trial dog, was winched out of the dry well by firefighter Neil Bevan from Malvern, four-and-a-half hours after she had gone missing.

Mr Palejowski said: "We just didn't know what state or condition the dog would be in, falling 30-odd foot you would expect a broken leg or two, but the dog was hoisted out, she jumped out of the harness and came running to me.

"The support, the commitment, the team work was just impeccable and I have been in touch with the rescue officer to express my gratitude and tremendous thanks."

On the scene was the specialist animal rescue team from Pershore, the rope rescue section from Malvern and the urban search and rescue (USAR) crew from Droitwich, which is trained in working with confined spaces.

"Quite miraculously, she would appear to be right as rain," added Mr Palejowski. "It is great to have her home."