Local Dog Looks On As Owner Drowns


Sparkplug showed little emotion following the accident

TEMPE, AZ—Sparkplug, a three-year old black Labrador Retriever, is receiving heavy criticism after she sat on the bank of Tempe Towne Lake while her owner, Matt Hopkins, struggled in the water before eventually drowning.

“It was truly unbelievable,” says Mary Swanson, who witnessed the accident, “Matt had been throwing a ball in the water for 45 minutes, and she had leapt in and retrieved it every time.”

About an hour after arriving at the lake, Hopkins decided to go for a swim to cool off while Sparkplug sat on the bank and chewed on the ball.

“He started struggling right away; I think it was a cramp,” Swanson says, “He screamed for Sparkplug to help, but she never moved. I swear to God her tail was even wagging.”

While Swanson stops short of accusing Sparkplug of murder, she believes the dog may have played a role in her owner’s death.

“She wasn’t out there in the water with him, but I get the feeling that she wasn’t exactly saddened when he died,” Swanson says, “Maybe she drugged him, I don’t know. I just wonder what kind of life insurance policy he had, and who the main beneficiary is. My bet is it’s Sparkplug.”

Swanson says she even offered to row Sparkplug out to the drowning Hopkins in her boat, but the dog never budged.

“She wouldn’t even look at me,” Swanson says, “Later, when the ambulance came, one of the EMTs threw her ball out into the water. Sparkplug happily retrieved it and shook off, wagging her tail like nothing had happened.”

Tempe police said in a statement that they will await a toxicology report on Hopkins before deciding whether to pursue any charges against Sparkplug.

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