A devoted animal lover dramatically jumped fully-clothed into the canal in Market Harborough to rescue a drowning fox cub.
Russ Bellamy, 57, swam out into the Grand Union Canal to save the ailing baby fox after spotting it in serious trouble.
And the cub showed its gratitude moments later by promptly biting him on the finger!
Talking to the Harborough Mail this evening, Russ, of Desborough, said: “Luckily I was in the right place at the right time.
“I didn’t think twice as soon as I saw the poor thing in the water.
“I leapt straight in because the fox cub could have died,” said Russ, who has two step-daughters.
“And I’d like to think that the vast majority of people would have done exactly the same as me.”
Russ told how the wildlife drama unfolded near Union Wharf as he walked by the canal with his wife Sharon, 52, and his Yorkshire terrier Bonny, 13, on Saturday afternoon (May 7).
“Bonny hadn’t been very well so we thought we’d get her out for a lovely walk in the country by the canal in Market Harborough.
“I do a bit of fishing and like to keep an eye on the water.
“Suddenly I noticed a ripple.
“I saw the fox cub swimming up and down by the opposite bank,” said Russ, who’s worked at Joseph Cheaney shoe factory shop in Desborough for 40 years.
“He was struggling, he was getting weaker and he had no chance of getting out because the bank was too steep.
“So I waded straight in in my T-shirt and shorts.
“The water wasn’t too cold but it did get deeper in the middle and I had to swim towards the cub.
“He came straight to me, he was puffing and panting.
“I got him out and we dried him off and Bonny had a sniff.
“He then nipped me on the finger and drew blood before going back to sleep!
“My wife rang the RSPCA because we weren’t sure where to take him.
“Then a lady walked along and told us about Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital in Kibworth,” added Russ.
“We were parked up near the town’s police station.
“So I jumped in the car soaked to the skin and wrapped the tiny fox in a blanket in the back.
“The staff at the fantastic wildlife hospital took him from us and they are caring for him now.
“Sharon has rang them since and he seems to be doing fine so we hope he’s going to be OK.
“I am just pleased that I was there to save this little fox’s life.
“It was a spontaneous thing to go walking by the canal in Market Harborough – usually I’m watching or playing football and Sharon’s shopping on a Saturday afternoon,” said Russ.
“So maybe this was just meant to be.
“I got checked out for the bite and luckily my tetanus jabs are up to date.
“I’m an animal lover as so many people are and it feels really good to know that I saved this tiny fox’s life – even if he did bite me!”