A sheepdog sniffed out a cannabis factory hidden in a farmhouse abandoned to make way for the HS2 railway line.
A farmer was out herding sheep with his trusty Border Collies Belle and Butch when Belle got distracted by something in the empty building in Yarlet, between Stafford and Stone.
The farmer’s suspicions were raised when he and a farm worker saw the back door open with the lock broken off and a pile of laundry bags and irrigation equipment.
They left the scene after believing someone was in the building.
Police were alerted and attended armed with Tasers.
Two men were allegedly found inside the building but pushed past officers and escaped across the countryside on foot. A helicopter scoured the area for the suspects but they remain at large.
Inside the building, just off the A34, officers from Staffordshire Police found three bedrooms full of cannabis plants growing, all of which were seized.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Police were called at 2.15pm on Tuesday, to reports of a cannabis factory at an address in Yarlet, Stafford.
“It was reported that two offenders made off from the scene. ”
“Various items from inside the property have been recovered.”
The building is believed to have been vacated a year ago to make way for HS2 which is earmarked to run through the area.
The farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “One officer kicked open the door – which had since been cable-tied shut – to be confronted by two men.
“The officer said ‘hello lads, what is going on here’ – but they pushed past the officer and ran out the back and then across the A34 and the countryside.”
The farmer added: “I believe that my dogs, one of which was in the downstairs corridor between us and the two suspects, must have deterred them from approaching myself and my worker.”