HIGHLANDS — The woman who rescued a pit bull from a cage left in a rising tide along the Jersey Shore said her own dog Molly is the real hero.

Jennifer Vaz is fostering the 1-year-old dog that she found Monday morning in a small cage on the water in Veterans Memorial Park in Highlands. She has renamed him River.

"[Molly] actually heard River and started pulling me towards the water where I never go," Vaz told New Jersey 101.5. "It's the path I take but never towards the water. I started hearing a tiny little whimper. That's when I looked down and I saw the crate and River's eyes just looking back at me terrified and the water coming up."

Vaz climbed down the sharp, slippery rocks to get to River's cage. She had to carry both Molly and River out so that their paw pads wouldn't get cut.

"Moily was following me because she didn't want me going down there by myself," she said.

Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office

Vaz took River to her home before calling police and said Molly helped River come out of his cage by walking in and licking him in the face. They played together and napped before heading to the Monmouth County SPCA's office. But River will be returning to Vaz's home temporarily while an investigation continues into finding who left him behind.

"We'll see what happens afterwards," Vaz said.

Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Chris Swendeman said the agency is investigating and asked anyone with information about River to call the Animal Cruelty Hot Line at 877-898-7297 or Highlands police at 732-872-1224.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ