As an American Kennel Club dog show was getting underway yesterday morning at Chesapeake City Park in Virginia, Christina Neff left her 10-month-old English Mastiff, Lemon Chiffon, in her SUV while she showed another dog in the ring.
When she saw four deputies running toward her car, her heart sank.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, my dog’s dead,’” she told WAVY.
Master Deputy Wayne Spencer was the first to see the smoke coming from Neff’s SUV and race to it. He and three other deputies from the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office were all volunteering their time at the event.
“It was brown smoke,” Spencer told WAVY. “It turned to black smoke. It got smokier and smokier.”
Not only did Spencer pull Lemon Chiffon out of the car, he got in and drove it away from the park — as flames were leaping out of the glove box.
“Cars and vans and tents were all around the vehicle,” Spencer said. “There was a lot of people around here, too. It could have been a very nasty situation.”
Spencer was able to park the SUV a safe distance away and get out before it became fully engulfed in flames.
After that ordeal, Lemon Chiffon received the show’s top prize. The four volunteer deputies were also honored for saving the dog’s life.
“Due to their quick thinking and quick reaction, no lives nor dogs were lost,” one of the dog show’s organizers said, according to WAVY.
Spencer said he doesn’t really think of himself as a hero. “We’re too old to go back in the military and too old for Boy Scouts, so we do this,” Spencer told WAVY, describing the deputy volunteers.
“It was very amazing,” Neff said. “‘Thank you’ does not cut it.”
Neff and Lemon Chiffon participated in another dog show today, getting there thanks to a loaner car provided by a local dealership.
Hopefully Neff won’t leave her dog in the car again — not only because of the rare chance of another fire, but because the morning temperatures in Chesapeake have been in the high 70s, which is too warm for a dog, especially a large one like Lemon Chiffon, to be left in a car, even with the windows cracked open.
Just two weeks ago, another Virginia officer performed a heroic deed, although it wasn’t quite as dramatic as Spencer’s.
When Officer J.T. Kulish of the Roanoke Police Department saw two lost dogs wandering near railroad tracks, he invited them into his air-conditioned patrol car, located their owners and gave them a ride home.
Yes, Virginia, there really are great cops in that state!