A woman lowered herself into an icy canal to rescue a seven-week-old puppy who was just minutes from death.
Arleta Vakane of Banbury was walking over the Oxford Canal in Bridge Street, Banbury, when she saw something in the water.
As she got closer she realised it was a puppy and after unsuccessfully lying down in the snow to reach the ailing creature, she slid into the water and swam to the dog to pull her out.
Mrs Vakane said: “I heard this screaming, crying noise and when I looked I saw something moving in the middle of the canal. As I got nearer I saw it was a puppy paddling in the water and trying to keep her nose out of the water – everything else, including her ears, had gone under.
“The noise she was making was so loud – she was fighting for her life. I laid in the snow and tried to grab her but the gap between us was too big, so I slid into the water to reach her.”
After pulling both herself and the dog from the canal Mrs Vakane ran to her employers at High Profile in Tramway Industrial Estate. From there the puppy was rushed to Hawthorne Lodge Veterinary Practice in Banbury where she was placed in an incubator with blankets, heat pads and warm air.
Veterinary surgeon Will Oldham said: “She was shivering and barely conscious. She was so cold it took an hour-and-a-half to read her temperature.
“Given how cold it was she would not have survived another few minutes in that water. She is a very, very lucky puppy; Arleta saved her life.”
Last Friday, two days after the rescue, Mrs Vakane was reunited with the puppy, who has been nicknamed Canal and Chilly by vet staff. She is now eager to adopt the puppy if her owners do not come forward.
She said: “I can’t believe it’s the same dog and I’m so happy.
“Her eyes are so bright but when I last saw them they looked half dead. If I keep her I’ll call her Hope, because we all hoped she would survive.”