ONE man and his dog sparked a huge police operation in Oswaldtwistle after fears the owner had gone missing.
The police helicopter, sniffer dogs and police officers were mobilised and Rossendale Mountain Rescue put on standby.
The alarm was raised at 6.45pm on Monday after a concerned resident found a cross Collie Labrador struggling to get out of a pond in the old nature reserve off Brookside Lane.
The resident thought something might have happened to the owner, who she had seen taking regular evening walks in the area with the dog, so she contacted the police and a full-scale search was launched.
It was not until 9.30am on Tuesday that police discovered the missing man was in fact safe and well after he telephoned the police station to report his missing dog.
Alan Marston, 59, had been safe at home for most of the previous evening and was unaware of the drama unfolding around him.
Alan, of New Bury Close, Oswaldtwistle, said: "I had come home from work at 5pm and found Fletcher, my dog, had gone missing.
"I called him and tapped his dog bowl but he didn't come so I set off on a four-mile hike to try and find him.
"I saw the helicopter and I wondered what the police were looking for.
"I wanted to call the police because I was worried about Fletcher but I thought they had more important things to do than look for a dog.
"It was only the following morning when I rang the police that I found out what had happened."
He added: "Flipping heck, it's unreal what went on. I think the police were superb and I can't thank them enough.
"I also can't believe the concern of the lady who not only saved Fletcher from the pond but was concerned about me and contacted the police.
"Fletcher obviously couldn't wait for his walk and had set off on his usual two-mile walk on his own. He's a little tinker."