‘Heroic’ Saxmundham fire crew thanked after manually lifting 1.4 tonne car to save dog

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car and then accidentally dropped her keys down a drain. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A grateful dog owner has thanked Suffolk Fire and Rescue service after her dog became trapped in her car.

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car and then accidentally dropped her keys down a drain. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ruth Purchase was expecting a quick and simple trip to the shops in Yoxford with her dog, when her car keys fell down a water drain.

Despite members of the public trying to help retrieve the keys, the right rear tyre of Ruth’s car, a Volkswagen Golf, was parked on the drain lid – making it impossible to reach the key.

Concern quickly grew for Ruth’s nine-year-old English Bull Terrier, Florence, who was trapped inside the vehicle.

Saxmundham firefighters attended the incident, which happened on June 5 at 7.30pm, to help as fear mounted for Florence’s life.

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car and then accidentally dropped her keys down a drain. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

With quick thinking by the crews, the seven fire fighters took hold of the 1.4 tonne car and manually lifted the vehicle before pivoting the tyre off the drain.

It was then that they were able to lift the drain lid, retrieve Ruth’s keys and save Florence.

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Ruth Purchase, 56, said: “I am so grateful to the emergency services, and I want to thank them so much for their help. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Ruth, from Saxmundham, who works as a physiotherapy massage therapist and often helps treat people with cancer, rescued Florence six years ago.

The crew from Saxmundham fire station with Ruth Purchase (centre) and her dog, Florence, after rescu

The crew from Saxmundham fire station with Ruth Purchase (centre) and her dog, Florence, after rescuing the dog. Picture: MARK LYE - Credit: Archant

“My patients love her”, Ruth explained. “English Bull Terriers get a lot of bad rep but she is so soft and lovely.

“Although a bit shocked, she was so sweet with the fire crew and wanted to lick them all and say hello when she was out of the car.”

Crew Commander Daniel Jay, from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We were over at Leiston fire station for a water rescue lecture when we received the call. We were told it was a life risk as the dog was locked in the car and the keys had been dropped in the drain.

“We got the car out of the way by lifting it up and moving it slightly and then used the Big Easy tool, which is normally used to retrieve keys from inside cars, to catch the key and take it out of the drain. We were then able to return Florence, an English Bull Terrier, to her owner.

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car and then accidentally dropped her keys down a drain. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“It was the first time I’d dealt with such an incident and the moving of the car was a bit unorthodox – we normally try and stay away from doing it like that!

“It was a happy ending and I’m glad we could help out.”

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “We are delighted that this rescue had a happy ending for all involved and that the firefighters did such an amazing job in order to help Florence.

“You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step as we may not be able to attend quickly enough and our officers have no powers of entry.”

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car

Ruth Purchase and her dog, Florence. Ruth had to call firefights after she left Florence in the car and then accidentally dropped her keys down a drain. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown