13/02/2012 09:15 GMT | Updated 13/02/2012 14:45 GMT

Dog Rescued By 'Foolish' Man In Underpants On A Frozen River (PICTURES)

A man who climbed across a frozen river in his underpants to save his dog has been criticised by firefighters for his "dangerous" rescue.

The owner was pictured crossing the River Stour in Dedham, Essex, after stripping down to his underwear and crawling across the frozen surface on his bare knees.

The half-naked man actually fell in the water just yards from the dog, but wrestling with the pet he managed to put it back on the ice, before clambering out himself.

According to eyewitness reports, the man then put his clothes back on and continued with the walk.

Barking mad?

Another dog walker Paul Wenbourne told the BBC of the dangerous rescue:

"He stripped down to his pants and started crawling across the ice.

"About a yard or so from the dog, he fell in but managed to get hold of the dog and put it on the ice.

"He then had to swim two or three yards and then crawl back on the ice to dry land.

"He put his clothes back on and carried on. It was a foolish act of bravery."

Although Essex police were not called to the incident, a spokesman told the BBC it was "extremely dangerous"

Stuart McMillan, assistant divisional officer at the fire service, said: "Even though this ice appears to be strong it can be eggshell thin.

"Anyone who falls through into the water below could get trapped under the ice and would only be able to survive for minutes in the freezing water.

"The most common cause is people chasing their dogs out on to the ice, and I urge people not to do this.

"It is not worth the risk. Dogs will normally make it safely off the ice and back to the shore – the same cannot be said for people.

"Frozen lakes and rivers are potential death traps."