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Staff Sgt. Joshua Elrod saves family pet

  • Published
  • By Sean Schroeder
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Aug. 27, 2023, is a date Staff Sergeant Joshua Elrod, an instructor supervisor for the 316th Training Squadron’s electronics signals intelligence analyst course, will likely not forget for many years to come.    

 On that Sunday morning in his San Angelo neighborhood, it was neither typical nor relaxing. 

He and his wife were awakened by the loud and ferocious barking sounds of multiple dogs. 

Elrod recalled that he went outside to investigate and saw a group of nine large canines, which he believed to be young pit bulls, antagonizing two of his neighbors’ dogs.  He noted that he did not see anything too concerning and believed the owner of the dog pack would come by and take control of the situation. 

Elrod stated he went back into his house to make some breakfast. 

A few minutes later, Elrod heard a dog whimpering in intense pain - communicating a strong plea for help.

He knew immediately the situation was dire and ran outside, this time with a greater sense of urgency.

What he witnessed was the same pack of dogs in another neighbor’s yard latching onto Coco, a medium sized chocolate Labrador and “gripping on and trying to tear the dog from all sides,” said Elrod. 

He believed Coco was in danger of losing her life. 

Without a moment to lose, Elrod said he grabbed a tree branch in his yard, leapt across the neighbor’s fence and with great fervor, whacked the pit bulls and scared them off. 

He admitted that he could have been seriously injured, “I hadn’t thought about it at the time,” said Elrod.  “I was in a fight or flight mode.”  

Elrod disclosed that one of the dogs leapt on him, which produced some minor scratches, but he was not bitten.

He stated that the local police and animal control arrived on the scene shortly after the incident and asked him for his statement. 

Elrod learned afterwards from several people in neighborhood that the dogs in question had allegedly killed another dog in the neighborhood recently and attacked a person.  He disclosed that learning that information sparked some anger and intense concern. 

As a practicing Norse Pagan, Elrod values his connection to nature and its living creatures.  

He noted that he rehabbed pet reptiles from people who could no longer care for them and nursed them back to health. 

Elrod recalled one instance when he cared for a savannah monitor during an eight-month period.  Elrod stated that he had to treat the animal with dewormer medication for several months and hand fed the lizard until it could eat on its own. 

“I have an inherent love for animals,” he said.  

In recounting the Aug. 27 incident, Elron disclosed that he was more concerned about Coco than his own well-being. 

Jehu Hernandez, a neighbor of Elrod, said “Josh went above and beyond when he saved our dog, Coco, from further injury when she was attacked by a pack of dogs.  He could have ignored the situation and let it play out, but he was willing to step in and stop the fight at the risk of getting bit himself.  Then, he immediately came to our house to notify my son of the attack and remained engaged in the situation until he knew our dog was taken care of.”    

Ryan Hernandez, son of Jehu, was unaware of what was happening to the family dog at the time. 

“Coco is family.  She has brought so much joy to my life.  I would have been devastated if something worse happened to her. I cannot thank Josh enough for saving her,” said Ryan Hernandez.