August 11, 2009 11:45 AM

It sounded like any other splash. But patrons dining at Joe’s Crab Shack in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 2 had just seen the unthinkable happen: a helpless dog thrown over a bridge – presumably by a disgruntled owner – and left to die in the Ohio River.

When waitress Kelsey Westbrook – a University of Louisville senior who works part-time at the restaurant – saw the pit bull swimming in circles, she jumped into action. “I ran to be parallel with her body,” Westbrook tells PEOPLE Pets. “I tried to coax her to the edge of the river, but she was confused.” Luckily, the Louisville Fire & Rescue’s dive team was gearing up for practice nearby, so members helped guide the pup to safety.

Westbrook took the scared but miraculously unharmed dog home that night – and they’ve been inseparable ever since. She’s named the almost-1-year-old pup Sunny, and has had her spayed and evaluated by a local veterinarian. “She’s doing awesome. And she’s being a spoiled baby now! But I just want to spoil her as much as possible,” says Westbrook. “I want to make sure she never has anything bad happen to her again.”

Originally, Westbrook only planned to foster the dog and then find her a good home. However, the student was nervous that if left to a shelter, Sunny might be put down. But Westbrook is now facing eviction pressure from her landlord since keeping a pit bull on the premises violates the terms of her lease. “I feel compelled for her to be with me because I think it’s best for her right now,” she says. “An apartment is a material thing – I can find a new one. I can’t find a new dog.”

And Sunny is happily adjusting to life in her new home – and her other four-legged roommate, Westbrook’s 2-year-old German shepherd mix, Nala. “They get along well,” says Westbrook. And she’s hopeful that justice will be served: “The police have had some great tips,” she says. “They’re going to get the guy who did this.”

Read more amazing animal stories on PEOPLE Pets:
Pup And Her Blind Canine BFF Find Forever Home Together
Mac the Dog Is a ‘Walking Miracle’ After 40-Foot Plunge Off a Cliff

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