Deputy Recognized for Saving Dog in Shark Infested Waters

Photo of Deputy Cudzilo with FernBy: Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell |

Deputy LeAna Cudzilo from the Manatee County Sheriff's Department in Florida is being honored for the bravery and courage she exhibited when she jumped into shark infested waters to save a dog in distress.

The rescue began on the evening of August 31 when the owners of a Coonhound mix named Fern installed a new invisible electric fence.

Unfortunately, as these devices sometimes do, Fern was so frightened by the shock that she bolted from her yard and off a boat dock into a canal. She didn't stop there; she kept swimming, straight for the ocean.

When Cudzilo arrived on the scene, she could hear Fern howling in the distance and knew the dog was in trouble. She asked the dog's owner to get in a boat and help her get Fern back to shore.

However, the boat motor only panicked Fern more. "Every time we got close, the engine scared her, and she ended up swimming up to the tip of the Anna Maria fishing pier," Cudzilo told the Bradenton Herald.

After seeing some people shark fishing on the pier, Cudzilo realized the situation was even more dangerous than they originally thought.

Disregarding her own safety, Cudzilo removed her belt and vest and jumped into the 25 foot, dark, shark infested water. The deputy was able to guide Fern back toward the boat, where the dog was rescued.

"Her actions went beyond the call of duty and averted the tragic loss of a pet," W. Brad Steube, the sheriff, said in a written statement to Pet360.

Cudzilo was recently awarded Deputy of the Month for December because of the actions she took that fateful night.

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