THE humble hero who saved Bibi the dog from drowning has received a gong from an animal welfare group.
Raden Soemawinata, 20, has been honoured after he dived off Brighton pier to rescue Bibi during gales on Sunday morning.
Mr Soemawinata's feat, which was captured by a Herald Sun photographer, sparked global interest and turned the young chef and part-time model into an instant celebrity.
Animals Australia, which represents more than 40 societies and thousands of individual members, yesterday gave him its Compassionate Citizen Award at a ceremony held at the rescue site.
The organisation's executive director Glenys Oogjes said yesterday that very few people would be willing to put their own life at risk to rescue an animal.
"Raden's action in jumping into the sea in such wild weather to rescue Bibi was truly courageous and most likely saved the life of this little dog," she said. Bibi's owner Sue Drummond said Mr Soemawinata was selfless and brave.
"Bibi would have succumbed if he hadn't jumped in", she said. "He's such a very nice young man".
Mrs Drummond said Bibi was doing well after his ordeal, but yesterday was the first time they had returned to the pier. "He seems very much back to normal, he's focused on food which is his normal thing", she said.
Mr Soemawinata, himself a dog owner, said he was stoked when told he was getting the award. "I was quite proud but at the same time I wondered whether I'd done
enough to receive it", he said.
"I know the companionship dogs bring to people".
The Compassionate Citizen Award was recently created, with sporting legend Ron Clarke the first honoured for recent comments criticising rodeos.