A life-saving search and rescue dog is recovering after emergency surgery to fix a horrific wound sustained during a missing person hunt near Northampton last night.
Black and white sheepdog Ted was part of the volunteer Northamptonshire Search and Rescue team combing woodland late on Wednesday.
But he came a cropper at the hands of a sharp stick or branch and finished up on a vets' operating table at 4.30am.
Ted's handler and 'dad' Ian Horton said: "Ted was very, very lucky. Whatever object it was pierced his chest fortunately missed all his major organs and blood vessels and damage to his muscles was limited.
"It was only millimetres away from his lung and it doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened.
"Our thanks to Vets4Pets at Northampton for treating Ted so quickly. I'm pleased to say that the team remains on call supporting Northamptonshire Police."
Ted — dubbed SuperTed and Ted Poirot canine detective by social media fans following an appearance on BBC nature show Countryfile earlier this year — is an air scenting tracker dog and runs at high speed off-lead covering huge areas sniffing out often extremely vulnerable people reported missing.
Normally he returns to his handler after picking up a scent, but last night he came back bleeding heavily.
Like the rest of the team, Ted has a day job — working on a farm — and they all give up their time and hard-earned cash volunteering.
They cover every inch of Northamptonshire's 760 square miles land and water and also offer support to neighbouring counties. They are on call 24/7 365 days a year.
A rundown of some of the costs involved include a £550 dry suit, £68 helmet, £120 life vest, £40 boots and a £550 bill for training.
Emergency treatment is covered under an insurance policy for Ted and the team's three other dogs, spike, Poppy and Nala, who are currently training for search and rescue.
But the team will be putting donations from their regular fund-raisers towards the cost of next year's policy.
They are also currently seeking nominations for a £1,000 grant from 12 Days Of Giving. The form takes just two minutes to complete and their charity number is 1195265.
Last night's call out was one of two answered by the team — which dubs themselves 38 volunteers with three specialised vehicles, one search dog, one search drone and ZERO government funding.
Both ended with the missing persons being successfully found safe and well.
Earlier this year they managed to raise £50,000 — with the help of more than £8,000 from Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold — to buy a new custom-made technical rescue vehicle.