A lamb that was rescued “just in time” from drowning in mud has been safely returned to his flock.
The sheep was stuck in mud for several days before being spotted by a dog walker on August 7, and was then pulled to safety by the RSPCA and firefighters.
He had become stuck in a water course near Middlesbrough that had become a quagmire of mud due to the heatwave.
RSPCA inspector Steph Baines was called to Brass Castle Lane, Marton, by the dog walker who saw the sheep stuck under an overhanging tree on the far side of the bank.
Ms Baines used a reach and rescue pole to try to take hold of the sheep, which “had sunk so far he was breathing bubbles in the mud”.
She said: “Even though he was a lamb, he was still quite big and he was stuck fast.
“I tried applying the hook of the pole around his neck, but because of the angle I was reaching out it was too tight and I realised he would have been hurt.
“We needed to find another way to get to him.”
She then called the Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service for help, who mobilised a specialist underwater rescue team.
Two fire officers used a raft to travel across the mud, enabling one to “get the sling underneath the lamb’s neck” and pull him safely on board.
Ms Baines added: “As soon as we got him to dry land I got him into the kennel.
“He didn’t put up much of a fight, the poor thing, as he was shattered.”
The lamb was then checked over by a vet before being returned to his flock.
Ms Baines said: “The lamb was exhausted and filthy, but otherwise okay.
“We tried hosing him down, although we didn’t want to get him too wet, so he’ll certainly stand out when he’s back with the flock.
“But there was no doubt he was happy to be out.
“To be honest we got to him just in time as it was going dark.
“I was having to hold my pole under his chin to keep his head above the water.”
It was the second time in the same week that a sheep had been found stuck in the mud, so the owner of the land was spoken to by the RSPCA inspector.
He has pledged to undertake repairs to fencing.