Police went beyond the call of duty in a comical night-time operation – to rescue a seabird stranded in the middle of a pond.
Officers rigged up a raft, launched an empty bath tun and finally found a leaky canoe to pull the wild bird to safety.
The three dog unit officers flew into action as they exercised one of their hounds on an industrial estate at 2am.
They spotted a trapped herring gull in distress on a nearby pond around 20 metres from the waters’ edge.
After putting their dog into their van the slapstick squad decided to launch their torchlight rescue bid by building a raft.
They found a couple of gas cylinders and an old wooden pallet which they tried to lash together with their dog leads.
But the makeshift raft started rocking and sinking as soon as it entered the water and the police quickly scrambled back to dry land.
Undaunted, they hunted around the darkened site at Dunball, near Bridgwater, Somerset and emerged with an old bath tub.
They dragged it over to the water – but then realised it had no plug and they could not keep it afloat.
Two of the officers were then called away to answer a 999 call – leaving colleague Pc Ian McIver to complete the job.
By now volunteer Mervyn Gratton had arrived on the scene as the duty responder for the nearby Secret World wildlife rescue sanctuary.
Mervyn, 30, pulled on a pair of waders and tried to paddle out to the bird – but was forced to turn back when the water started lapping over the top.
Intrepid Pc McIver went on another hunt for a solution and to his delight found an old canoe dumped in a skip behind a nearby recycling plant.
He carried it over to the water where Mervyn fastened a dog training lead to the rear as PC McIver carefully climbed inside.
The officer then set out into the water, using his hands to paddle himself forward while Mervyn held the other end of the lead for safety.
The gull was snagged on a tree by a fishing line and PcMcIver managed to cut it free and haul it on board – before ordering Mervyn to quickly pull him back.
He then realised the canoe had a small leak and was slowly sinking in the freezing 5ft deep water.
Pc McIver returned safely to the shore together with the bird – and wet feet.
Mervyn then took the gull, which had a slightly damaged wing, to his sanctuary at nearby East Huntspill.
It was given some medication and spent the remainder of the night resting before being released back into the wild.
Mervyn said today: “It was all rather funny, like some kind of TV challenge – find a way to reach the bird.
“They tried a raft, then the bath tub and finally the canoe. I even waded in myself but had to turn back with wet feet.
“In the end the bird wasn’t that badly hurt and it was actually quite feisty.
“But it was a real team effort and I was truly impressed by the resourceful initiative the police showed.”
Police Chief Inspector Paul Mogg said: “Varied as this job is, this will no doubt go down as one of the more unusual rescues the dog handlers have been involved in.
“While they’re more used to skilfully tracking down criminals or missing people, it shows the quick thinking and resourcefulness they have.
“It was lucky they were training in the area at the time and was a happy ending all round.”
Secret World Founder Pauline Kidner said the charity operated a 24 hour rescue service and had always received wonderful co operation from Avon and Somerset Police.