Dog honored by Texas first responders for helping save owner's life

Astro, a pit bull mix, led a stranger to his owner who had suffered a medical emergency

Maria Cortes Gonzalez
El Paso Times

EL PASO, Texas — Every dog has his day and Friday it was a celebratory one for Astro, a pit bull mix who's being hailed a hero.

The dog was honored at the El Paso Fire Department Safety & Health Outreach Center, at 5415 Trowbridge Drive, by the fire department officials and Ramon Herrera, interim director for El Paso Animal Services.

Astro, a 1-year-old rescue dog, received a medal from the El Paso Fire Department for helping save his owner's life.
Astro, a 1-year-old rescue dog, received a medal from the El Paso Fire Department for helping save his owner's life. (Photo/Briana Sanchez, El Paso Times)

"Two days ago at 1:30 p.m. the fire department responded to Artcraft for reports of a patient in a medical emergency. It sounds like a straightforward medical call. However there was something peculiar," said Enrique Duenas-Aguilar, Fire Department spokesman.

"The 911 caller reported that a dog led him to the patient in need. This of course got a lot of attention. And the crews did confirm when they found the patient, there was a dog protecting his owner," he said. "We know the dog was even trying to climb into the ambulance."

Both the officials and the family of the 36-year-old man, who is recovering in a hospital, believe Astro was instrumental in saving his owner's life.

The patient's mother, Bertha Martinez, who wants to protect the privacy of her son, said they are still a bit shocked at the dog's ability to essentially flag a Samaritan by barking and being restless.

"He's always been friendly but he caught us by surprise. We never in a million years imagined he would do something like that," she said.

Martinez said they have had the dog for a year after seeing him on the streets as a pup.

She said Astro's action changed her mind about pit bulls.

"I've always been scared of pit bulls. And when we brought him home, I wasn't sure we would keep him for a long time," she said.

"But now I think if people have space for a dog, they should consider adopting a pit bull," she said. "There are a lot of dogs in shelters and we need to find them homes and treat them well."

Herrera said Astro is a good example of what they try to convey at Animal Services of the love and companionship that animals bring to people's lives.

"We're glad to be here to honor Astro for his bravery, his friendship and his commitment that he shared to his owner," he said.

Martinez said she called her son that morning to make sure the dog did not get loose. He often takes the dog for a walk to the park and the Franklin Mountains.

But she doesn't know what happened or where her son was until she got a phone call about the emergency.

Duenas-Aguilar presented Astro with a medal for his actions. He also received a cake and homemade treats, courtesy of Jojo & Coco's Treats.

Martinez didn't say if Astro would be getting any preferential treatment at home. She did say she has more love for him now.

"My son might not exist if it wasn't for him," she said, while Astro bit into his cake.


(c)2021 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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