A MAN plunged chest deep into a freezing river to rescue a pet dog after it jumped in and got into difficulty.

Keen photographer Gavin Lowe, from Middlestone Moor, near Spennymoor, was out trying to get some snaps of the wintery weather when he came across the springer spaniel.

The animal had jumped off a small wall into the River Wear at Low Burnhall, a Woodland Trust managed nature area near Durham, but was unable to get out by himself.

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After coming across the pet, Mr Lowe defied the snow and freezing weather conditions to jump in the river and rescue the animal, which was struggling to keep its head above water.

He said: “I was walking and I saw a guy shouting for a dog.

“He asked if I had seen a dog and he was starting to panic a bit because they couldn’t find it.

“I turned round and walked back shouting for the dog and I could hear him whimpering.

“I found him in the water and he was struggling to stay afloat so I got the camera gear off and just jumped in to save the dog.

“It was freezing cold but the dog had been in for a while so I had to get him out. It probably came up to just below my chest.

“As soon as I passed the dog over I got back to the car to get home so I didn’t really get any photographs.”

After passing the dog over to his grateful owners, Mr Lowe spent the afternoon warming up by the fire.

The dog lover, who has a cocker spaniel, added: “I’m just pleased the dog is ok.

“I hate to think of it happening to my dog.”