‘Miracle’ dog is home after days on isolated ledge

Poppy with delighted owner Ricky Leonard
Poppy with delighted owner Ricky Leonard

A BELOVED family pet has been returned to her owners 11 days after plunging 100 feet off a cliff.

Poppy, a three-year-old springer spaniel, was hailed a miracle for surviving for a week-and-a-half on a narrow ledge underneath the East Hill.

Her owner, Caroline Leonard, watched in horror after Poppy set off after a seagull while the family were out for an Easter Sunday stroll, and ran straight over the edge of the cliff.

But despite a frantic search, help from the police and the coastguard and a massive poster campaign, there was no sign of poor Poppy and her owners feared the worst.

“It was so bizarre – it was like she had just vanished into thin air,” Mrs Leonard, 44, of Bexhill said. “We were distraught and after all that time we just assumed we would never see her again.”

But on her way to work on Wednesday, Mrs Leonard received a call from an animal search organisation saying a dog matching Poppy’s description had been handed in to a vet in Rye.

“I phoned the vet and as the woman there was describing her I heard Poppy barking, and I knew it was definitely her. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

“We found out that a man had been walking on the beach had heard a sound which he thought was a seagull. But he climbed up to the ledge and couldn’t believe it when he found a dog.”

He brought her down and took her to the vets where she was found to be in a good condition, although she is lame in one leg which should clear up in the next few days.

“It is an absolute miracle,” Mrs Leonard said. “A good 100 feet down there is a massive gorse bush and we think she landed in that which broke her fall. “We had all that rain, which I think helped but there was also the thunder and Jack-in-the Green, which would have been quite frightening for her.”

Poppy has now been microchipped to stop anything similar happening again, and the Leonard family were full of praise for the man who rescued Poppy, who doesn’t wish to be named.

“Bless him, he risked life and limb for her, and she would have died on that ledge. He is such a hero – we owe him the world,” she said.