"When the boat flipped over, I put the dog on top of the boat," Earl told The Dominion Post of Morgantown.
While waiting for someone to rescue them on Mason Lake in northern West Virginia, Earl clung to the 12-foot boat's hull. The water temperature was about 50 degrees, said J.M. Crawley, a senior conservation officer for the Division of Natural Resources.
Another fisherman, Jan Thorn, watched from shore as a state trooper paddled out to rescue Earl and Lacy.
"He asked the state trooper to take the dog first," Thorn said. "It was very touching."
Earl, 53, said Lacy means a lot to him and his wife since they lost both of their children in a car accident 15 years ago.
"That dog is like a child to us," he said.