'Clever' dog helped rescue owner after river fall

A man who nearly froze to death after falling into a river has told how he was saved by his pet dog.

Michael Dabbs, 63, spent more than two hours trapped in the cold river off Churchill Road in Grays, Essex.

But his loyal Springer Spaniel Smudge came to his aid, attracting the attention of passer-by Tony Paxton who dialled 999. Police then arrived to pull Mr Dabbs free.

Pc Karen Pownall holding Smudge, Michael Dabbs, 63, with his other dog Ben, Tony Paxton and Pc Martin Swain at the scene of the rescue Credit: Essex Police/PA Wire

Mr Dabbs, who was trying to rescue his other spaniel, Ben, spent about six hours in hospital after the rescue.

Mr Paxton was crossing the bridge when Smudge ran in front of him.

He said: "I made a fuss of him because he seemed distressed. Because he had a lead on I was fearful that its owner might be in trouble. Then I heard Mr Dabbs's weak calls from help."

Mr Dabbs said; "I am extremely grateful to everyone involved and reckon the police officers did a really good job.

"Smudge did a good job too. He could have run off but Springers are clever dogs."