A DOG owner who plunged into icy waters to save her precious pooch has thanked a hero passerby who helped with the rescue.

Debbie Richmond, 37, was walking her pug-cross Lemmy with a friend when he darted off excitedly onto a frozen river.

Debbie, from Dyce, Aberdeen, was walking Lemmy towards along the Donside path towards Stoneywood when the drama unfolded.

She said: "I let him off the lead and he ran off down the bank - but he just kept on running over the ice - he was so excited.

"It happened so quickly, I had no time to get him back - when the ice got too thin he fell through."

Debbie, who said Lemmy is "the most precious thing" to her, started to try to break the ice to get nearer to the hole where he was stuck.

But the tiny two-year-old pooch couldn't hold himself up to get out of the freezing water.

Paul Gray, 39, was also out walking his dog and ran over when he heard the friends' "huge screams".

He said: "When I got close enough, I could see the two women in the river - they were both in up to their necks.

"They were both screaming hysterically. I told them to keep calm and to get out straight away - but they were trying to break the ice to get to the dog.

"The dog had walked across the ice and was in the water, in a circular hole. They were about four or five metres away from it.

"I ran and pulled a branch off a tree and tried to get the dog to take hold of it - I thought if it got it in its teeth, then I could pull it out.

"We managed to coax it and got it onto the ice, but then it fell in again. The two women were crying and totally hysterical.

"I was more worried about them and getting them out of the water - they were in so deep, but still standing on the ground."

Lemmy was eventually coaxed out and back on dry land.

Debbie said she is still quite shaken by the incident but "so grateful" to Mr Gray for his quick thinking in helping save the dog.

She added: "I'll be keeping Lemmy on a lead from now on."