A PREGNANT sheepdog had a miracle escape after she was run over by a 15-tonne tractor - and survived because she was squashed into the soft mud.

Shepherd Josh Sibley feared the worst when Winnie, a Border Collie, chased a rabbit under the forager harvester.

While the rabbit made it out the other side Winnie went under the 4ft wide rear wheel of the machine.

Luckily, because the ground was so soft Winnie was pinned down into the mud rather than being crushed to death by the tyre.

When the tractor rolled away Winnie got up and bolted, leaving behind a dog-shaped hole imprinted in the ground. She collapsed moments later due to two popped lungs and a fractured pelvis.

Winnie was rushed to a vets and after a tense five days of treatment costing £3,000 she pulled through and was allowed home.

A scan of her stomach a few days later found the three-year-old dog's pups had also survived the ordeal.

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Winnie the sheepdog  Pic: BNPS

Josh, 22, had been working on his brother-in-law Ed Bowditch's farm near Beaminster cutting a field of maize when the accident happened.

He said: "We were on the last 20 metres of the field of maize when I let Winnie out of my tractor to go to the toilet.

"She was fine until she saw the rabbit. I watched her run straight towards the forager that Ed was driving. I tried to get his attention but he couldn't see or hear me.

"The rabbit went straight under it and she followed. The whole wheel went over her body - the back axle weighs about six tonnes and the wheel is about 2ft wide and 4ft in diameter.

"I thought 'that's it I've lost my dog, there's no way she could get up from that'.

"As soon as she came out she got up and ran about ten yards. She was biting at her back because it hurt then she just laid down and waited for me.

"It left an imprint of her in the ground. I think that's what saved her, the ground was soft so she got squashed into the mud."

Josh's sister, Pam Bowditch, who is a vet, was on the scene in minutes. They made a makeshift stretcher out of their coats and whisked Winnie to her surgery, Girling and Bowditch Veterinary Surgeons in Beaminster.

She was monitored overnight but by the next morning she was struggling to breathe and choking on her own blood.

X-rays revealed the force and weight of the wheel had caused both Winnie's lungs to pop, leaving a hole in each which was leaking air into her chest cavity.

Pam, 31, had to perform an emergency chest drain without anaesthetic to remove 1,500ml of air before rushing Winnie to a special intensive care unit in Bristol.

There she was given two permanent chest drains and was monitored to see if her lungs would heal or if she would need surgery.

It took 72 hours, the longest the vets had ever known for a lung to heal, before Winnie could have the drains removed.

Josh said: "The whole time she was at the vets I thought any minute I would get a phone call that she's not made it.

"We had agreed with the vets we weren't really worried about the puppies, we thought she would lose them, we just wanted to get her through it.

"We waited about ten days and then Pam scanned Winnie's stomach. She could tell straight away they were fine, hearts beating and they looked bigger than the last scan.

"We couldn't believe it, it was like a second miracle.

"Winnie is on maternity leave now, she's doing very well but she still needs to rest."

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Winnie with owner Josh Sibley  Pic: BNPS

Pam said: "I definitely thought she might not make it.

"Winnie deteriorated the day after it happened, her breathing and heart rate got faster and she got more and more distressed.

"The force of the tyre had caused the lung to pop and have a hole, on both sides.

"Somehow she also managed to hold on to the pregnancy, she's a bit of a miracle dog.

"I really didn't think she was going to make it so to have her here and still with pups is really amazing."