Waikato police have saved a small dog from an unlucky fate, plucking it from the Waikato River after noticing it was struggling to get out of the water.

Senior Constable Kevin Stone and Sergeant Craig Kennedy were on the river evaluating a search and rescue boat yesterday when the spotted the struggling pup.

"I noticed a small dog clawing at a vertical cliff face trying to get out of the water," Kennedy said.

"On closer inspection the dog wasn't able to get out of the water and was nearing exhaustion."

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When the pair approached the dog in their boat, the canine turned to swim towards them.

They hauled the dog from the water and took him to shore.

They then gave Hamilton City Council's Animal Education and Control team a call - who soon had the pup back home with his owners.