City worker saves dog from drowning at Salem Lake


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — When Jay Council joined the City of Winston-Salem’s staff, “dog catcher” wasn’t included in his job description. Neither was “dog saver,” but on Sunday, he fulfilled both.

Council works full time with the city’s Community Development Department but has been picking up shifts at Salem Lake for eight years.

“Basically, supervise the lake while we have customers out there,” Council said, of his responsibilities.

Council’s shift this past Sunday included answering a call from someone at the lake, telling him that there was a dog swimming – or at least trying to – in the middle of the lake.

“A hundred yards or so in front of the pier, the dog’s swimming across the water,” Council said.

The Salem Lake pier is 300 feet long, which means the dog was about 600 feet out from the shore. Council grabbed a large fishing net and ran to a boat.

“As I get down to the boat the dog starts coming over towards the bank,” he detailed.

At this point, Council says, the dog’s hind legs were so tired they were simply floating on the surface.

“I heard it whining and crying as it was coming to the side,” he said.

Still barely paddling, with its head struggling to stay above water, Council reached out to it with the net.

“I scooped the dog out of the water,” he said.

Council brought the dog, soaked, shaking and scared, into the office. Inside, a woman took her jacket off and put it on the dog. Council gave him treats and the very thing that nearly claimed his life; water.

“We don’t know where it came from, how it got there,” he said.

The dog is now in foster care thanks to Stepping Stones Canine Rescue. There, they’ve named him Neptune, after the God of Fresh Water. FOX8 is told Neptune is still timid but is starting to come around.

“What if this was one of my three dogs that I have? I want to save it and take good care of it like I do my own,” Council said.

When asked if Council would consider taking in Neptune as well, he jokingly said he’d have to run it by his wife.

“If you see an animal in distress, save it,” he said. “You don’t know why it’s hurt or what’s going on with the animal. Just take the time out and save it.”

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