A WOMAN and her dog had to be plucked from the freezing waters of a harbour after she tried to rescue her pet after it fell off a pier.
A walk along the second pier at Courtown harbour in Co Wexford ended when Holly her Jack Russell misjudged the end and plunged into the sea.
Aoife Keogh (29), of Riverchapel, Courtown, was with her partner James Byrne and Rusty, the brother of Holly, when drama struck.
"Holly did not notice the end of the pier and ran towards it. She went into the water," said Aoife.
"I tried to entice her towards the dock. I threw in a lifebuoy but she could not get a grip."
Her partner drove to the opposite pier where there were steps to try to get Holly to swim to him.
Aoife said: "Holly was struggling. I could see her going under the water."
She attached the rope of the buoy to a metal pole and lowered herself in the water about 20ft below.
"I got into the water. The buoy was beside me. I had one hand on the rope and the other on the buoy. Holly came over and jumped on my shoulder as I knew she would."
But she was so cold she could not get out. "The minute I got into the water the extreme cold hit me. My teeth were chattering. I could not scream. I was in the water 15 to 20 minutes but it felt like an hour."
Three members of the local lifeboat crew, Fintan O'Donoghue, Aine Stafford and David Switzer, arrived and attached ropes to each other.
Two went into the water and swam to Aoife and her pet. They were dragged over to the steps and to safety.
The RNLI crew said rescuers were delighted with the happy ending and that Holly and her owner were recovering well. Aoife, a carer for the elderly, said she would not put the lives of rescuers in danger.
"I knew they were coming first of all. The rope would keep me there. It was just a matter of timing."
Crew member Aine Stafford said: "We would advise people against going into the water after their pets as this can lead to a tragic outcome. The RNLI will launch to rescue anyone in difficulty and that does include pets and animals in trouble," she said.