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Dog Left to Drown in Cage in River, Woman Finds Him Before It's Too Late

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Jennifer Vaz was out one morning doing what many people do in the morning: Walking her dog. There are few motivators as genial and insistent as a pup who wants to get outside.

The duo lived in Highlands, New Jersey, and were trotting along Bay Avenue at about 6:15. Vaz’s dog, Molly, stopped her.

Somehow, she was able to snag her owner’s attention and the two looked at the waterline. There was a cage with a dog in it, the tide slowly creeping over it.



“When we got closer I heard the whimpering. When I looked down, I saw these eyes looking back at me — these cute little puppy eyes all shivered up and scared,” Vaz recounted.

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She immediately freed the dog, which looked to be a pit bull around a year old. The poor dog was scared, but seemed happy to be rescued from an almost-certain death sentence.



“I couldn’t believe that this happened in our town and somebody could be this malicious and do that to that dog,” the pup’s rescuer said.

Pit bulls already have a lot of stereotypes working against them, and shelters are overflowing with unwanted bully breeds. This dog — appropriately dubbed “River” — was saved from the water, but now he needed saving from the fate faced by so many abandoned pit bulls.



As far as the Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni is concerned, if Vaz hadn’t stopped to help, River would have been just another sad story.

“High tide would have been at 10:30,” Gramiccioni said. “And this crate to house this small dog was probably two and a half feet off the ground. The water was rising through the crate and just in a matter of less than an hour, River wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for Jennifer coming to take him out of the crate, saving his life.”

If the person who dumped this puppy can be found and proven to have done this terrible deed on purposes, it could mean up to 5 years in prison for intentional animal cruelty.



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Based on the tides and the state of the dog, authorities are guessing that River must have been dumped sometime between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. the day Vaz found him. The investigation is continuing.

“We’re following every lead we have,” Ross Licitra, Monmouth County SPCA Chief, said.

Fortunately for River, Vaz isn’t about to let her little rescue go. She saved him once, and she plans to save him again: She’s currently fostering him and hopes to adopt him — and that’s as much as anyone could ask.

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