Published: Apr 26, 2013 5:46 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 26, 2013 5:48 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Dramatic photo shows Cape Coral firefighters carrying a canine that fell into a canal and almost drowned. But they weren't the ones that actually rescued the the dog. WINK News found it, it was a Cape Coral family.

The dog was trying to get a drink from the canal, and fell in. The seawall was too high, and he couldn't get out.

Jody Tavanese saw the dog fall head first into the deep canal. "He lost his footing and fell in. Arms and legs everywhere. He was in the water, so I screamed and I think I scared my husband to death,' she said.

She stood on the seawall, and called for the dog, but says he was frightened and struggling. "I could tell he was an older dog. I could tell he was really big," she said.

Her husband Dan took over, and neighbors came to help: some with a boat. Dan said he jumped in the water to keep the dog afloat, as it collapsed in his arms. "I actually grabbed him in the water, picked him up, and we got him onto the dock," Dan said.

"There was a moment when I couldn't see my husband, I couldn't see the dog and the thought crossed my mind. 'Oh my gosh. Did my husband jump into save a dog and drown?'" said Jody.

Although the fire department came at the end of this rescue, WINK News learned it responds to animals in canals once or twice every two weeks.

"Most of our canals have seawalls. Straight concrete walls and unfortunately when an animal is now in the water, it can swim, but they do not have the ability to get out," said Cape Coral Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Christopher Moore.

When that happens, first responders can use specially donated animal oxygen masks, and can catch animals in canals with special sticks.

The fire department says the dog escaped because someone painting the house where it lived accidentally let it out.  Although neighbors here don't know where that house is, everyone is happy the dog survivied.