How would you react if your dog was about to drown in the ocean? A Santee man didn't think twice and jumped in to save his dog but it was lifeguards that saved both their lives.
Steve Neely says he brings his 11-year-old Golden Retriever, Sawyer, to the dog beach in Ocean Beach a few times a week.
Last month, while tossing a stick to Sawyer, both friends ended up struggling in the water.
The water conditions were brutal, with 8 to 10 feet waves slamming against the shoreline – a present threat of rip currents near the jetty, lifeguards said.
Sawyer was pulled underwater, causing a panicked Neely to dive in to save his beloved friend. Neely was also pulled underwater and struggled to stay afloat.
That was when San Diego Lifeguards rushed into action, one going after Neely and several others searching for Sawyer.
“By that time Sawyer had really nothing left, and he was struggling barely keeping his head above water,” Connor Robbins, a San Diego Lifeguard said.
After spotting Sawyer, lifeguards used a doggie oxygen mask to revive him.
On Friday, Neely met up with the lifeguards to thank them for rescuing him and his dog.
“When you hear somebody say that there's a guardian angel in your life, you kind of take it for granted unless it happens to you. And I have five of them, all right here,” Neely said talking about the lifeguards.
He shared with NBC 7 the heartfelt letter he wrote to the lifeguard chief:
“I can't begin to express adequately what a phenomenal team of professional lifeguards these individuals are and how fortunate I and Sawyer were to have them on duty when this all went down.
"I am eternally grateful to all of them and will never forget their bravery. Thank you for having such wonderful professionals under your supervision. Regards, Steve Neely and his best pal, Sawyer.”
Neely says lifeguards never asked for praise, but he can't stop giving it.
Sawyer had to stay at a vet hospital for three days following the rescue, but he's fine now, as if the rescue never happened.
Though lifeguards know it would be tough for a lot of pet owners, they recommend owners not to go after their pet and to call 911 instead in these situations.