Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 13:41 UK

Obedient dog saves woman in river

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Penny a labrador-cross from St Asaph rescued a lady in distress from a river when her owner asked her to 'fetch'

A dog has saved a drowning woman in a swollen river after her owner shouted: "Fetch."

Brenda Howatson was walking labrador Penny along the River Elwy near her home at St Asaph, Denbighshire, when she saw a woman in difficulty.

Following her owner's command, Penny jumped into the river and dragged the unconscious woman ashore.

Mrs Howatson said the woman, a resident at a local mental health hospital, was safe and well thanks to Penny.

The drama unfolded when Mrs Howatson, a civilian custody officer with North Wales Police, spotted a wheelchair near the river's embankment.

She said: "I saw a woman going down towards the river on her bottom. She also had a leg in plaster. I shouted: 'Are you all right, love?'

"That's when she went in.

St Asaph's bridge over the River Elwy
There's no doubt that her quick thinking and prompt action saved the woman's life
North Wales Police

"I ran down the embankment. There's a whirlpool down there and it's somewhere Penny normally steers clear of.

"But I shouted 'fetch' and she just jumped straight in. She went straight for the woman and then dragged her in.

"As she got to the bank I was able to grab her collar and we pulled the woman in. She was unconscious."

Mrs Howatson put the woman in the recovery position while another man who had witnessed the rescue helped direct paramedics to the scene.

The woman was taken to nearby Ysbyty Glan Clwyd hospital.

'Proud'

Mrs Howatson added: "I've since been to visit her at the home and she's recovered fine.

"I'm very proud of Penny, she did a great job. I'm not a strong swimmer but if Penny hadn't have been there I'd have had to try and swim into the whirlpool.

"There had been heavy rain the day before and the river was very strong.

"Penny is 10 years old but still very fit."

A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said: "There's no doubt that her [Mrs Howatson's] quick thinking and prompt action saved the woman's life."

The woman is a resident at nearby Plas Coch, an independent mental health facility.

A spokeswoman for operators Mental Health Care, said: "We're very grateful to all the members of the public and the emergency services who helped."




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