A Long Beach police officer took a polar bear plunge into icy Reynolds Channel early Friday in the successful rescue of a 60-pound rottweiler, police said.
Police said Officer Bryan McCullough was attempting, along with an animal control officer, to corral the loose dog on Pennsylvania Avenue when the rottweiler tried to make an escape — and leapt off a dock into the water just after 7 a.m.
The air temperature was 21 degrees, but felt like less than 10 with the wind chill, according to the National Weather Service. The water temperature? An icy 33 degrees.
At that temperature hypothermia can set in quickly and can cause death in 30 minutes, according to the U.S. Search and Rescue Task Force.
While the animal control officer donned a wet suit, police said McCullough was clad only in his uniform. But McCullough, realizing the rottweiler was in "extreme distress," nonetheless leapt in to the waist-deep water to save him, police said.
"The dog most likely would have succumbed to the exposure of the cold water and air temperature if it had not been for the actions of this officer," Long Beach police spokesman Sgt. Brett Curtis said in a statement.
Police said the dog is "fine" and said McCullough, who was treated for exposure at the scene but declined additional medical assistance, has recovered too.