MIKE READ has told how he rescued a drowning puppy from the River Thames.
The BBC Radio Berkshire presenter heard Digby the border terrier’s owner Sarah Prior calling for help near Marsh Lock in Henley.
He grabbed the dog by the collar and pulled him out of the water before he could be swept away by the strong current.
Mrs Prior, 43, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, was out walking six-month-old Digby on Thursday last week when the drama happened.
She said he was interested in some ducks on the water but when they swam off he went after them and fell in.
“He went straight under — there was no floating or anything,” she said. “He sank like a stone. I was in a panic and ran straight towards him.
“Mike knelt down and grabbed him by the collar and yanked him out. Digby had bobbed down at least twice by this point. The river was very cold and the current was so strong.
“Mike turned round and I recognised him straight away and said, ‘hello, Mike Read. Thank you for rescuing my dog’. He said, ‘that’s all right, you need to teach him to swim’.” Read, who lives in nearby Mill Lane, said: “Anyone would have gone and tried to get him out. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
“The owner was shouting and I saw a little nose poking out of the water and thought the dog was in trouble.The river was still very fast-flowing and within 20 seconds he would have been 20 yards downstream. I think his owner was more shocked than the dog.”
The local celebrity was left covered in mud and said: “I had to pop into Hobbs and hose it off. I did get some strange looks walking round town afterwards.”
Digby has recovered from his impromptu dip with no ill effects.
Mrs Prior, a freelance food writer, said: “I think it’s hilarious that my dog is more famous than me now.”
Meanwhile, dozens of dogs have been treated for illnesses they picked up from the floodwater in Henley.
Cases of vomiting, diarrhoea and chronic weakness have increased due to people’s pets scavenging in flooded areas and drinking contaminated water.
Erik D’Arcy Donnelly, a surgeon at the Henley Veterinary Centre, said: “We are getting lots of dogs coming in with various abdominal complaints.
“They have been walking in Mill Meadows and places with lots of water and picking up a virus.
“Sewage water has been washed downstream — people in Mill Lane in Shiplake have had stuff floating around their homes.
“When the river levels were high last year we were aware that we had a problem and we knew it would be about the same this year but it has been worse because of the floods.”
Dogs brought into the centre in Reading Road have been placed on a drip of rehydrating fluids and given antibiotics.
Owners are advised to give the animals a bland diet and not to walk their dogs until they have built their strength back up.
A leaflet published by the practice says: “We would advise anyone who has a pet showing signs of an upset tummy to come in and see us.
“This will allow us to get treatments started quickly and hopefully reduce the need for hospital stay.
“In particular, old and vulnerable pets should be seen as their immune systems are often greatly reduced, making them more prone to infections.”