The owner of a 150-pound dog said she was forced to let her pup Rupert drown after he got caught in a storm drain in Orange County.
The horrific drowning came Sept. 29 at the Santa Ana river jetty - a place where dog owners bring their pups to play in the water, but is not a designated "dog beach."
That doesn't stop dog owners from splashing in the water, playing fetch.
Madi McNaughton said she had taken Rupert, a 3-year-old Mastiff mix, to where Newport Beach and Huntington Beach connect. She said she had four other dogs with her, and they weren't at the beach for more than 10 minutes when tragedy struck.
She tossed the ball in the water, and a high-tide wave swept Rupert toward the storm drain. McNaughton said she jumped in after him, landing one hand on his collar. She said the water was so deep and the current so strong, that she had to let go, knowing he would die.
Viewer reached out to NBC4 to report the story and to say there were reports of other dogs getting caught in the water. NBC4 couldn't independently verify those reports.
The purpose of the jetty, which is flanked by slabs of concrete, is there to prevent the flooding of homes by allowing water out of the tunnels. The openings are supposed to have a "tidal gate."
McNaughton said she wants to spread awareness so other dog owners don't go through what she did.
The Orange County Department of Public Works released a statement to NBC4 following the incident.
"We're looking into this. This is tragic news. And while we need to assess what happened, we don't want any additional safety incidents to occur. We want people and animals to be safe," spokeswoman Shannon Widor said.
Mike Glenn, a candidate for Newport Beach City Council, has been working to make the jetty area an official dog beach.
Glenn and his colleague Jon Pedersen have worked for about a year contacting local, county, state and federal governments, he said in an email to NBC4. He expects that the beach will be designated as a legal dog beach on Oct. 25.
A candlelit vigil is set up for Rupert at the jetty on Thursday.