An Iowa man said a dog he helped save is recovering at home after its brush with death on Monday when it became trapped in an icy river in rural Madison County.
West Des Moines resident Jerry Romaine told KTLA he was walking his own dog, Lucy, when he heard "a very blood-curdling howl" from underneath a nearby bridge. He soon found Sam, a black labradoodle, struggling to keep his head above the freezing water after he had apparently fallen through the ice.
The river's steep banks and slippery conditions hindered Sam's escape, said Romaine, who immediately sprung into action. He drove to the closest home, about a mile away, but was unable to find any help, so he called 911 while heading back to the bridge.
While waiting for a rescue crew to arrive, Romaine said he scrambled to make other rescue attempts, beginning with pulling out his 50-foot tow rope in attempt to lasso Sam to shore.
"After several attempts and getting very wet myself I just could not get close enough to snag him," Romaine said. "Finally another truck with four guys stopped and tried to help."
One of the men got a stronger rope from a nearby farm, which allowed Romaine to get closer, but not close enough, he said.
"Although whenever the dog was able to see me he would quit howling as if he knew someone was trying to help," he added.
Thankfully, firefighters arrived within 15 minutes with a boat and were able to rescue Sam without incident, Romaine said.
The labradoodle was taken to Winterset Veterinary Center around 10:30 a.m. Monday, where Dr. Jim Pottebaum found his shoulders and back half of his body were cold and non-responsive, according to the Des Moines Register, but he was soon wagging his tail after being given a heating pad, blankets and steroids.
Sam was soon reunited with his owner, 24-year-old Heather Russell, who said he had been staying with her parents at a farm near where he was found, the paper reported.