UPDATE: We checked in with Astro's owner and she tells us that her brave little buddy, after being examined by a veterinarian, injured the pads of his paws from running for so long on hot pavement. He's going to have to take it easy for the next couple weeks.
WASHINGTON (WJLA) – A harrowing scene unfolded on I-495 Friday involving a wayward Shih Tzu-Poodle mix named Astro, a dog that Montgomery Fire and Rescue Captain Don Yingling would like to rename.
Yingling says, “They should have named him Rocket. Oh yeah, he was extremely fast. We’re in pretty good shape and he outran me.”
Captain Yingling, Firefighter’s Ryan Bailey, Chris Walker and Firefighter/Paramedic Zach Horchar from Station 726 in Bethesda were called to a multi-vehicle crash on the interstate.
Liyan Young was involved in the crash. While she headed to the hospital with minor injuries her beloved year-and-a-half old pooch Astro, who she admits is a speed demon who lives to run, was placed in a fire department vehicle for his safety. But someone accidentally opened the door.
“As soon as the door cracked that dog was out," says Bailey.
What started out initially as a game of cat and mouse quickly turned into a lopsided track meet with Astro running for his life down a closed interstate.
Yingling says, “We were chasing him down the outer loop toward Virginia. We were in pretty good shape. The dog was ahead of us but we were gaining ground on him. And there was a break in the jersey wall, and he made it through there and that’s when it got a little hairy.”
Here’s where our story gets scary. Astro headed straight toward traffic, and in a moment that made us all gasp, he goes under a car and amazingly resurfaces unscathed.
“The job is to protect everybody animals and people and everything so we didn’t want him to get over there,” says Horchar.
Small, fluffy and freakishly fast, the seemingly indefatigable, undeterred dog just kept going. Weaving through traffic with the breakaway speed of a thoroughbred and the 9 lives of cat.
The big break for everyone came when Astro took a quick U-turn in front of a tractor trailer.
Yingling adds, “A civilian actually stopped and scared him into the bushes and he was running up the hill and we were able to catch him.”
Captain Yingling and his team finally corralled Astro, safe and sound after the 7-minute marathon chase. He’s now back home in the arms of Liyah Young, who tells us Astro is tired and in need of hydration. She’s grateful for his guile and the firefighters who never gave up on him.
“I’m just glad it turned out good. Good, happy ending," says Captain Yingling.