- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - An Annapolis man was hospitalized after jumping into an icy river in a failed attempt to save his dog, which he described Thursday as a beloved member of his family.

Vytas Penkiunas, 77, said he was in his backyard with his 19-month-old black Labrador retriever, named Sweets, when he saw her walk onto the icy South River around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday. He yelled at her to come back but she ignored him and soon after fell through, he said.

“I heard her yelp with her head sticking out, a feeble yelp,” Penkiunas said.

Thinking Sweets would tread water, Penkiunas ran to tell his wife before running down to the river. But she had gone under.

Penkiunas said he got in and used his body to break through about 30 feet of ice as he used his feet to try to find Sweets. He found her after about 20 minutes and was carrying the 70-pound dog to shore when he tripped and went under himself. Rescuers, who had arrived by then, pulled them both from the water.

An Anne Arundel County Police corporal tried to resuscitate Sweets, but police say she was under the water too long and didn’t survive. Penkiunas was treated and released for exposure.

“It’s just kind of weighing on my mind. Could I have saved her any other way?” Penkiunas said Thursday. “Should I have gone in right then and there without telling my wife?”

Penkiunas said he and his wife have had Sweets since July after deciding they were ready for another dog. Their other Lab died of cancer three years ago at age 8.

Penkiunas said Sweets was loving, inquisitive and full of adventure.

“She was dearly loved,” he said. “We were very happy to have had her.”


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