A TEENAGER was rescued himself, after climbing 50ft up a cliff to reach a dog which had fallen from the top.
Matthew Downie, 16, and the animal were lifted to safety by rescuers amid dramatic scenes watched by hundreds of people enjoying a scorching hot day at the seaside.
The youngster was on a family trip to Hengistbury Head, near Bournemouth, when he saw people looking up at the pet.
The dog, a four-year-old border collie called Ben, had run away from its owner at the top of the cliff and toppled over the edge, coming to rest about 50ft above the beach.
Matthew decided to scale the cliff in a bid to rescue the dog but when his stepfather Chris George, who works for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, saw what was going on he advised him to stay put and wait for professional help.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service’s rope and animal rescue team, the coastguard and a fire crew from Christchurch joined forces to rescue the teenager and the dog.
They lowered a harness to Matthew, who was then abseiled to the beach. They used a bag suspended from a rope to lift Ben to safety.
Ben’s owner Anthony Lowe, from Bournemouth, said he had been on a trip to the seaside with his two daughters when the dog disappeared.
He paid tribute to Matthew’s bravery.
“We went down to the seafront to see if there was anything we could do from down there,” he said.
“Matthew very bravely ran and climbed up the cliff to comfort Ben.”
He said the dog was none the worse for his ordeal but added: “I think we’re going to get his ears tested and find out why he doesn’t listen.”
Matthew’s mum Joanne Chilton, who heard about the episode by phone, said: “The crowd were clapping and cheering when he got down but I think he did get a bit of a telling off.”
Matthew, from Chandler’s Ford, said: “I wasn’t going to walk away knowing that I could have done something.”
A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said the incident had ended happily but warned people not to put themselves in danger when rescuing animals