Dick and Wendy Ward were walking their dogs beside the river on a warm Whanganui day when things took a turn for the worse.
It's a walk that the Wards do regularly, one that leads them past the Aramoho Rowing Club and allows Chloe and Nell to take a dip along the way.
They were 200-300 metres past the club, where the bank begins narrowing, when Dick looked over at his 13-year-old Border Collie Chloe and thought she'd caught something.
He walked over to see what she'd found and was disgusted by what he saw.
"She had a fish hook stuck in her mouth," Ward said.
"What happened is someone had obviously cut off a rig with some line and three hooks with bait on them and just thrown it on the bank."
Dick used a penknife to cut off lines tied to two of the hooks, but discovered he was unable to remove the one that was buried in the soft flesh of Chloe's mouth.
He made the trip to First Vets on Glasgow St where Chloe was heavily sedated and the hook was cut out for $121.
The Wards took in Chloe when she was a 3-year-old pup as well as her daughter Nell who is now 10.
"We're disgusted that people can't be bothered to take their dangerous rubbish away. It's bad enough just dropping rubbish, it's harmful to wildlife and people," Dick said.
"We know that things can always happen to your pets, but we'd be very upset if they died as a result of someone's carelessness or foolishness."
Dick said he has seen fish hooks down by the river before, but believed this was too far in to have washed up.
It is not the Wards first encounter with an animal that has swallowed a hook.
In 2017 near Virginia Lake they came across a distressed duck and took it to The Bird Rescue, but it died due to the injuries it suffered.
The issue has occurred in Whanganui previously. In 2012, Pat McNamara paid $2000 for a procedure to remove a hook from his dog Cooper's oesophagus.
And in 2017, Rosemary Thompson discovered a hook in her dog Aina's teeth, but was luckily able to pluck it out herself before the Corgi had a chance to swallow it.