'Every day he got better': Rescued after 27 days in a well, Bruno goes home

Bruno, a seven-year-old Labrador retriever that survived a 27-day ordeal stuck at the bottom of an abandoned well, is on the mend and returning home following intensive care at the college of veterinary medicine in Saskatoon.

WARNING: This article includes a graphic image

Bruno on the mend after 27 days stuck in a well

5 years ago
Bruno on the mend after 27 days stuck in a well 0:40

Bruno, a dog that survived 27 days stuck in an abandoned well, is on the mend and returning home after some intensive treatment at the veterinary college in Saskatoon.

The seven-year-old Labrador retriever was found curled up at the bottom of a three-metre deep well in the Estevan area Oct. 14 almost a month after owners John and Cindy Billesberger noted he was missing. They, along with family and friends, had spent weeks scouring their farm property and roadside ditches trying to find Bruno.

He's got his personality back.- John Billesberger

John Billesberger finally located him after noticing his other dogs were lingering at a spot thick with tall grasses. When he pushed aside the grass, he discovered the old well and his dog.

"He was pretty rough looking there," Billesberger said Thursday. He took the dog to the vet in Estevan — about 200 kilometres southeast of Regina — where they started treatment for severe malnutrition and dehydration, as well as injuries from his trying to get out of the well, which Billesberger estimated was roughly a metre wide.

John and Cindy Billesberger are taking Bruno home after treatment in Saskatoon. The dog was stuck in a well for 27 days. (CBC)

It was estimated the dog lost about 18 kilograms — from his regular weight of just over 40 — during the ordeal. Initially, Bruno was in dire condition and the dog's survival was in question.

"Every day he got better," Billesberger said.

The gradual recovery hit a setback after five days, leading to a referral for more specialized, intensive care in Saskatoon.

Bruno, a seven-year-old Labrador retriever, will continue recovering at home. The dog's diet will be closely monitored while undergoing physiotherapy. (CBC)

"They were definitely Bruno's heroes," Cindy Billesberger said of the veterinarians and staff in Estevan and Saskatoon. "We're so grateful."

"He's got his personality back," John Billesberger noted as Bruno wagged his tail happily before the car ride home.

"I can't wait for him to get back," Cindy Billesberger said, adding their other dogs have been missing Bruno. "I think he'll thrive more when he's at the farm, and around his friends, and in the fresh air and with us. He'll be happy."

After 27 days without food, Bruno received initial treatment at a veterinary clinic in Estevan and more intensive care in Saskatoon. The dog was found at the bottom of a three-metre deep well. (Cindy Billesberger/Submitted to CBC)

Bruno will need to gradually return to a full diet, she said. He also has some physiotherapy routines and more visits to the vets to check on his paws.

A case study for vets

Douglas Freeman, dean of the veterinary medicine college at the University of Saskatchewan, said Bruno's remarkable recovery will be written up as a case study.

"It's been a very interesting case," Freeman said. "He still has lot of work to recover ... there'll be continued care at home."

He added Bruno got along well.

"I'm told he was a great patient," he said. "He never complained once about hospital food."