A three-year-old pit bull-boxer mix named Thor is being credited with protecting his owner, Justin Ireland, during an attempted armed robbery Monday afternoon at a gas state in Saco, Maine. The heroic dog lunged at the attacker, jumped and bit his arm and face, forcing him to flee.
According to WGME-TV, Ireland, 21, a clerk at Holly Gas Station on Portland Road, said he was working the afternoon shift at the gas station on Monday when a man dressed in a hoodie, with his face covered as if against the cold, walked up to the door at about 3:25 p.m. and asked to use the phone.
The robber then pulled a gun and demanded cash. While trying to intimidate Ireland, the robber pushed and shoved him. According to Ireland, when the intruder laid hand on him, he began yelling and released the dog. He had been holding the dog by the harness when the intruder entered.
The heroic dog, who had been waging his tail at the sight of the stranger, now sensed he was a threat and attacked, Ireland told WGME-TV.
“Guy walked up to the door, asked if he could use my phone. I never let anyone in the building. So I said no, I don’t have a phone you can use… As soon as he pushed me, that’s when Thor jumped up at him.”
Surveillance footage shows the moment that the intruder pulled a gun on Ireland. According to Saco Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Holland, describing the incident to reporters before the footage was released to the public, Thor jumped multiple times and nipped at the intruder’s arm and bit him on both sides of his face.
“The dog jumped up and nipped at his hand initially. And then it appears in the video that he bit him on both sides of his face… As soon as the dog went after him, they guy took off quicker than anything.”
Ireland said that Thor had never behaved that way in his presence before and that he had never previously trained him to attack intruders.
The footage shows the dog springing to nip at the hand in which the robber held the gun, forcing him to back away and escape through the door. The man fled and climbed into a truck parked near the station on Flag Pond Road, according to Portland Press Herald.
But police chief Holland said that in cases of armed robbery it is wiser to hand over money when demanded than try to resist the robber. But Thor was not aware of the useful piece of police advice. He went straight for the intruder when his actions pissed him off.
“It’s very dangerous when you step in like that. In this case, it worked out for the gentleman.”
Holland concluded that it was fortunate that “nothing bad happened. We’re thankful for that.”
Ireland said that his boss had taken a liking to Thor because he felt he could be useful for security. But because Ireland had never trained Thor for security work, he had often wondered how the dog would react if a robbery occurred.
He concluded that Thor acted out of instinct.
“The boss likes him just because he looks like good security. And now I know he actually is.”
Meanwhile, police say they are looking for the robbery suspect. After police released surveillance footage Friday, they gave a description of the robber. He is a white male about five foot, eight inches tall, weighing about 180 pounds. He was dressed in a navy blue hoodie and was driving a light blue, newer model Chevy Silverado truck.
Ireland told police that the gun he held appeared to be a BB gun. He also probably has dog bites on his face.
Police also released a sketch of the robber after a witness who saw his truck parked on the road, and another who had seen the truck and driver before, gave descriptions to police sketch artists, Portland Press Herald reports.
Anyone who has useful information is asked to call the Saco Maine Police Department.