A dog which plunged 500ft off a cliff in west Dorset and survived for 45 days by eating sticks, stones and seaweed before being found is on the road to recovery.

Shadow, an 18-month-old Shar-Pei, slipped his harness and went missing between the Golden Cap and Eype.

Despite extensive searches, which even involved West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team, the Whiting family had almost given up hope of seeing their beloved pet again when holidaymakers found him on the beach more than a month later.

Shadow was in a very poor condition and had to undergo surgery to remove some of the material from his stomach. His fracture had healed badly, so his owners, who were already struggling to pay his veterinary fees, set about trying to raise the money for Shadow to see a specialist orthopaedic surgeon.

Shadow’s owner Amber Whiting set up a Just Giving page for donations towards the cost of the surgery that he needed to save his leg.

When surgeons at Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists (SCVS), Ringwood, heard about how Shadow had survived against all the odds they offered to perform the surgery at a reduced price. Shadow has since been operated on by Phil Witte one of the specialist orthopaedic surgeons at SCVS.

Mr Witte said: “It is a pleasure to get involved in Shadow’s recovery following this extraordinary story of survival against the odds. Realigning the fractured bone was complicated because it had healed in an unusual orientation, but I was pleased with the end result of the surgery and hope Shadow will now have an uncomplicated convalescence and a return to normal function on the limb.”

Shadow is now glad to be back home with his family, receiving lots of fuss and attention, and is well on the road to recovery from his ordeal.

Mrs Whiting said: “It's been a very long and emotional few months. We were absolutely devastated when he went missing at those cliffs. We and many other volunteers, including the coastguard, DogLost volunteers, and drone owners, searched for over a week. What followed was an awful experience because we didn't know what happened to him. The not knowing if he was alive, living out in the wild, or stolen to a gang of dog thieves was horrendous. I spent many nights crying and my children were in a terrible state.

“When we had the call to say he'd been found we couldn't believe it. He was so skinny my husband didn't recognise him. Thank god the RSPCA had scanned him. We quickly went from the massive high of finding him to the shock and upset of seeing just how much weight he had lost and the state of his leg. He'd been living on stones, twigs and seaweed. He had to have a lifesaving stomach operation, even now we're still building up his strength.

“Now that his leg has been fixed we feel he can truly start to heal up and get well again. We are so grateful that he’s been given so much love and support from people. Thank you so much for helping us with Shadow.”

Harry Scott Clinical Director at SCVS said: ”Specialist treatment can be expensive, but when we heard about Shadow and his owners’ predicament we were more than happy to offer our services at a reduced cost. As a referral hospital we see a lot of critically ill pets, but Shadow’s will to survive impressed all of the team at SCVS.”