While on his way to his annual New Year’s Day bike ride beside the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Austin Russell’s attention was caught by something splashing in the water.
He heard a dog barking and as he looked around, he realized that the splashing in the water was actually the dog who appeared to be tangled within some branches. Russell was near a college campus and managed to flag down a security guard.
Meanwhile, the dog had managed to free himself from the branches, however, he was unable to get out and was swimming along the break wall in freezing waters. After an unsuccessful attempt to pull the dog out with a mop brought by the security guard, Russell was frantic to find another option. He surveyed the area before his quick thinking led him to an area beneath the train tracks where he was hopeful he could intercept the dog as he continued going downstream.
He said to Fox17, “I laid on my stomach and the level of the river was perfect. My arm was barely long enough to reach the dog. He didn’t have a collar so I grabbed him by the skin on his neck, pulled him out of the water.”
Once he was pulled out, the dog was shivering so Russell waited in the middle of the road in order to flag down a car for help. Thankfully, a passing car slowed down and stopped in order to help – and it just so happened that the couple stopping had some extra clothes and a towel in which they could wrap up the wet dog.
Russell had called local police when he first spotted the dog in the river, however, police officers at the time were busy assisting two other dogs who had fallen into the river. When they finally managed to arrive on the scene, officers escorted the dog to Kent County Animal Shelter. As it turned out, the dog was a pit bull/husky mix named Max. He had escaped from his home after part of his family’s fence had been kicked down. His owners came to collect him.
It is not sure exactly how he ended up in the Grand River, but his owners are thankful that Russell was there to save Max. Once Max was safe, Russell posted the rescue to Tik Tok, where it went viral, being viewed 11 million times in just a few days.
Watch the video below: