THE vet who saved the life of a dog which survived being hit by a train has described him as "a little miracle".
Bruno, a five-year-old labrador, suffered terrible injuries but was saved by vets at the city's Companion Care surgery.
Chris Eiermann, who spent three hours operating on the animal, said: "We see dogs in car accidents every week, but when a dog is hit by a train that is usually that. This really is a little miracle."
Bruno, owned by Dawn and Graham Cann, of Leypark Road, Whipton, was struck by a train on the Exeter to Exmouth line near his home.
The track runs along the back of houses where gardens end just before the embankment.
Graham, a van driver for butchers Leach & Sons, said: "It is an absolute miracle he is still alive. The vets were amazing and I can't say enough about them."
He said Bruno had been in the back garden when Dawn noticed he was missing.
"I went outside and called his name. There is a hole in the fence at the bottom of the garden which is covered by an old door and breeze blocks," Graham said. "He must have got through there.
"I called him and called him and guessed he must be on the line. I put my shoes on and rushed out to the pedestrian bridge that crosses over the line just up the road.
"I looked over and I could see Bruno, he was walking along really slowly.
"I rushed back home, kicked a bigger hole in the fence and went out to call him.
"He came back and managed to stick his head through the hole. He was bleeding from the mouth and as he came on in I could see he had a massive gash on his back. He also had a terrible wound to his backside and his tail was completely sheared off. He was in a bad way."
Graham called the vet and rushed Bruno to the surgery in the Pets at Home store on the Rydon Lane Retail Park.
He said: "They were great. They started to operate on him almost straight away.
"It was amazing; he went in on the Wednesday and was allowed home with us on Friday afternoon.
"He had loads of staples placed across the cuts and he had also broken his jaw in three places. He is okay, although feeling a bit sorry for himself.
"How a dog can be hit by a train and survive I don't know but we are all delighted he has pulled through."
Mr Eiermann said Bruno had three fractures of the jaw, a fractured leg, his tail was ripped off and his spine was exposed.
"It was one of the worst cases of this type that I have ever seen. He was in shock when he arrived and we stabilised him and gave him pain killers.
"He was in surgery for three and a half hours, which is a long time for an animal.
"After he came out our nurse Nicky Collins stayed with him after work and did not leave until 2am before coming back in the morning to see he was recovering.
"He has done amazingly well. He is eating and drinking and seems to be making a good recovery.
"He has a little stump of a tail left to wag."
Meanwhile Dawn and Graham, who have three children, Adam, 24, Lewis, 23, and Chloe, 17, now have another problem.
Graham said: "Sadly we didn't have any vet insurance and the bill is £1,066. I heard Pets at Home are starting a collection.
"It is a lot of money but we'll just have to pay up. I have to say though, we all think Bruno is worth it. He's a super dog."