A local Animal Control officer is being hailed a hero for helping a Southcrest family – and their dog – escape a fire that sparked near their home.
The blaze began around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night inside a garage in the 3900 block of Newton Avenue. The fire quickly spread, with flames shooting out of the structure by the time firefighters arrived at the scene.
Luckily, right at that time, Animal Control Officer Melissa Prettyman was out on a call in the Southcrest neighborhood and just happened to see the fire engulfing the garage.
To her surprise, fire officials weren’t on scene just yet, so she took matters into her own hands.
The brave, quick-thinking officer called 911 and then went to the nearby home to alert the residents.
“I’m not going to sit there and wait until help arrived, because you never know when it’s going to be too late,” said Prettyman.
The officer began banging on the door and was able to wake up the family inside the home.
“They were all sleeping,” she recalled. “So, with someone banging on their door, telling them that the house is on fire and they need to evacuate – that was a pretty big shock.”
The late-night wake-up call was especially frightening and shocking for a 7-year-old boy inside the home who froze in his tracks when the situation got chaotic.
That’s when Prettyman sprung into action.
“He seemed, of course, scared. There’s a fire and everyone’s panicking. I picked him up and took him [outside],” said Prettyman.
She also put her animal control skills to use and saved an older family dog that was struggling to move quickly enough. Prettyman said she grabbed a leash from her truck and carried the dog out of the home.
In the end, the family and their dog were thankful that Prettyman was in the right place at the right time.
She, however, doesn’t consider herself a hero.
“I did what I think anybody else would do in that situation -- in helping, whether it be your neighbors or friends or the community, out in that way,” said Prettyman.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the garage fire. Luckily, the garage is not directly attached to the house, so damage to the home was limited.