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Bulldog Killed While Saving Greenbelt Family From Intruder

Riddled with bullets, the family’s bulldog continued to charge at the masked intruder.

Joe was a quiet Old English Bulldog who stayed out of the way when company visited, but he was bold about one thing, protecting 13-year-old Ashayla Porter and her family. It was a loyalty that was tested by gunfire, and with his life.

When it comes to heroism, some people misunderstand it, according to Officer Ryan Peck.

“It’s just basically an average person that at the moment of truth does extraordinary things,” he said. And that’s what Joe did, Peck told Greenbelt City Council on Monday. “He died doing my job.”

The Greenbelt, MD, Fraternal Order of Police honored Joe before city council with a plaque that Peck presented to Ashayla and her mother Lucinda Porter. The department feels a gratitude toward Joe that it continues trying to honor. One of its officers even attempted to revive Joe with CPR on the fateful night of Nov. 5, 2011 — a night the Porters will never forget.

The family had just moved to Franklin Park Apartments from Northwest Washington, D.C. Lucinda was working on the curtain fixtures in her room at around 9 p.m. Ashayla was putting on a new bed set, a gift from one of her mother’s coworkers at Walter Reed Medical Center. Rodney Hayes, Lucinda's 18-year-old son, was out doing laundry.

An odd noise that sounded like pebbles hitting the window caught Ashayla's attention. She peered out her blinds but saw nothing and decided to go to the kitchen.

Within minutes, the family’s excitement about their new home would turn to terror.

In the moments before the storm struck, Ashayla saw for the last time the 2-year-old dog that she said was like a brother to her. She had stopped cooking to go to Rodney's room, where Joe had retreated after an earlier bathroom mishap. She rubbed his head to let him know that he was forgiven and went back to the kitchen.

Suddenly, the window glass shattered in Ashayla’s bedroom. Having taken off her nurse’s uniform, Lucinda rushed from her room to Ashayla’s bedroom wearing only her undergarments — fearing Ashayla was still there.

The next thing she knew, Lucinda said a gun was in her face, and a masked intruder commanded her, “Freeze bitch.”

To this day she remembers his deep raspy voice.

Lucinda screamed.

“Mommy what’s going on?” Ashayla called out to her.

In that moment, Lucinda realized her daughter was not in the bedroom and yelled “hide.” Ignoring the intruder’s order, she ran for Ashayla.

A bullet whizzed by Lucinda’s head in the hallway, barely missing her, she said.

She looked to see the gun firing again, this time not at her but at Joe, who had crossed her in the hallway and was lunging at the intruder, she said. Four bullets hit Joe, one to the head. But he would not stop, Lucinda said, and he growled.

It was “like a growl, I’ve never ever heard before,” Lucinda recalled.

Then she heard what sounded like the intruder fumbling with the venetian blinds, and she saw Joe fall. He looked at her before he hit the ground — with a look Lucinda said she won’t forget. It was if he was saying, “Mommy, you’re safe now,” she said.

Lucinda found Ashayla hiding in the kitchen pantry, and they ran to the living room. Lucinda held Ashayla in her arm, gripping a knife in one hand and a fire poker in the other, she said.

If they came for them, Lucinda said she decided, “We’re going out fighting.”

When a police officer arrived after Lucinda's 9:07 p.m. call to the station, she said, “I jumped straight in that man’s arms.”

“I didn’t cry until she told me that they shot the dog,” Ashayla said.

She recalled how protective Joe was of her. He was mild-mannered, like an old man — but when Ashayla took him on walks, she said he wouldn’t let anyone come near her.

“The dog is what caught him off guard,” Peck said.

The Greenbelt police paid to have Joe cremated, Lucinda said. Peck said that a lot of the officers wanted to help and gave from their personal funds, and the community pitched in too.

“I miss him everyday,” Lucinda said of the family’s Old English Bulldog, who did ordinary things, like going to the bathroom where he shouldn’t or rushing up to greet the family when they came home. But he proved in the moment of truth even an average dog named Joe can do the extraordinary.

Karl Hille February 28, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Wow. That was well done.
Elizabeth Ivy February 28, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Unbelievable what a dog will do for their friend! I am soo sorry for your loss Porter Family... Prayers to you all.. Rest in Peace Joe!!!
Bailey Henneberg February 28, 2012 at 08:47 PM
I get choked up myself almost every time I think about Joe.
Elizabeth Ivy February 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Also Kudos to Greenbelt City Police Department for taking the initative to show their respect for Joe!!!
Jenny Hysan February 28, 2012 at 09:01 PM
this story made me cry...very sad
Charles Lewis February 28, 2012 at 09:26 PM
I owned a beagle, aptly named Snoopy for my name is Charlie, that I rescued from the side of the road one morning while delivering newspapers in 1998. At that time my wife was pregnant with our first child, and while this dog was the most mild mannered dog in the world, one day a stray Rottwieler came after my wife and Snoopy stood his ground like nothing we had ever seen. The Rott backed down too. Even the most mild mannered dogs can become beasts when challenged to protect their families. I hope the Greenbelt Police captured this coward. Its a shame that he cant be charged with first degree murder because it was a dog he killed, because that is what he deserves. We should all salute our family companions, big or small, for the sacrifice they make for us without thinking when called to do so.
Bailey Henneberg February 28, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Snoopy and Joe show what kind of courage love inspires.
Sheila Maffay-Tuthill February 28, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Amazing dog and great story-RIP Joe.
Lucinda Porter February 29, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I would like to first of all Thank each and everyone for there kind comments and shout outs to my fallen hero "Joe"... Joe was a huge part of and to my family, he is well missed I still find myself at times looking for him when I come in from work, that was one thing Joe did waited for me to come home from work so that we could go on our daily evening walk. This tragedy has given me a new look on life and what the real meaning of laying my life down for you, and that's what Joe had done for my daughter and I. I would like to send a special Thanks to the officers that came out to my daughter and I on the night of November 5th 2011. Thank you, Thank you Officer Marks, Officer Park, Officer Peck and to the other Officers that was there on that very night whom's names that I did not get but I haven't forgotten you and Thank you Officer Marks and Officer Peck for calling and reaching out to my family after this event and a for taking such good care and concern for my Joe.. May God continue to shine down on the Greenbelt police officers and to protect you all while your out there serving the community. God bless those that took the time to write, hear and read our story.. Thank you all and with much love in our hearts. The Porter Family..
Bailey Henneberg February 29, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Lucinda I can't stop thinking about your Joe. I recall you telling me you didn't know why this happened. I wish I could tell you. All I know is that Joe has made the world a better place. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
Mike Apgar February 29, 2012 at 01:00 PM
My condolences to the Porter family for the loss of their loved one, Joe. He is truely a hero, by any standard. Especially by ours. Mike Apgar Greenbelt FOP
keligal February 29, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I agree with Charlie Ive had large dogs all my life and 2001 i got my first chihuahua LOYAL sometimes a bit annoying but NO other dog ive had has had ribs broken trying to keep a known intruder out of my home WHEN I wasnt even there! RIP trinket & Joe
Nick Roberts March 01, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Semper first, you fallen hero. You died fir what trully matters. To the little girl a cry for you, dogs are as much family as our two legged partners
Katrina Boverman March 02, 2012 at 03:32 AM
My heart breaks just reading this story. To do what is right regardless of the danger it puts us in is the epitome of "doing the right thing". We can all learn from Joe and from the Police Dept. who honored him. Joe was truly a LOVE! There is so much good that can come from tragedy as this story depicts. I take comfort in believing that Joe is hanging out with my beloved LeRoy (who died March 6th of last year). I will pray for the Porter family. Thank you to Patch for sharing this story with the rest of us.
Elizabeth Jarrell March 10, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Lucinda,,this is a wonderful, beautiful story of Joe.... Although, your experience hit me quite hard. From what I read, you had disciplined Joe for "oopsing" in his new environment.....Being in a new atmosphere, our pets will "mark" their territory....I am boss!!!! I am so very happy Joe saved you and your daughter but PLEASE remember, don't hurt the feelings of our loved ones when all they know is "natural instincts"......thank GOD natural instincts kicked in ....with not caring of repercussions
Mary Wyatt March 10, 2012 at 09:42 AM
I am so sorry for your loss, as I have an English Bulldog I rescued. She is also protective of my Mom and I. She is so sweet to everyone, but stays between strangers and us when walking. I pray that you have found another furbaby to love even though Joe can never be replaced. If not their are great rescues in your area. He was a hero and a blessing to you. I admired the police department for their respect to Joe. As far as the intruder I hope he is found and charged heavily, including murder. God bless you and your family and RIP dear Joe.
Shannon Miller March 10, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Awe, I miss my Lucky Dogg! I feel for the loss of there family member. My condolences
Bailey Henneberg March 10, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Thanks for your condolences to Lucinda, Ashayla and Rodney. I'll make sure they see your comments. Peace to Lucky Dogg.
Bailey Henneberg March 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I just passed on all the latest comments to Lucinda. I know she has been touched by the empathy people are sending out to her and her family.
Bev Hale March 11, 2012 at 05:31 AM
As an owner of several Olde English Bulldogges please accept my heartfelt condolences on your family's loss of Joe. This is an amazing breed.
Richelle March 12, 2012 at 04:53 AM
This story made me burst into tears & I cry every time I think about it. Hero dog stories always choke me up. I have 2 OEB's so this story hit a little closer to home. God bless Joe for loving you & giving the ultimate sacrifice to save your lives. I'm sure he's still watching over you. R.I.P. Joe I am so sorry for your loss. (hug) :(
Tara dunning March 12, 2012 at 07:49 PM
This is very touching! I too have ORB's and they are TRUE companions. If I knew a way to get ahold of them I would like to, next time we have a litter donate one of our pups;)
Tara dunning March 12, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Sorry oeb's ( olde English bulldogges)
Bailey Henneberg March 12, 2012 at 08:08 PM
How generous of you Tara to offer them one just like Joe! I'll pass your offer on to the family.
Bailey Henneberg March 13, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Tears ran down Lucinda's face when she heard about your offer, she told me in an email. She thought Lucinda would be very happy. Can you email your contact information to me, and I'll pass it along. I'm at bailey.henneberg@patch.com
Kelsi March 16, 2012 at 11:55 PM
That is amazing... I don't even have words!
yui0219 October 22, 2012 at 05:49 AM
sad story
yui0219 October 22, 2012 at 05:52 AM
I hope those murderers were caught. They opened fire at ppl and dog without hesitation, it means they were not first timers and will take lives again when they have chance. I hope there is still death penalty cuz these ppl are the worst kind.
dawn April 22, 2013 at 01:32 AM
God bless the\is boy!
Lauren November 16, 2013 at 07:12 AM
My sympathies to Lucinda and her family. Both for your loss and for your tragic experience. I'm going to give my dog a few extra pets and love in his honor.

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