NEWPORT NEWS, VA (WTVM) - A police officer and Navy veteran was just doing his job when he arrived to the scene of a car accident in Virginia on Aug. 28.
The two-car accident did have a four-legged passenger – a dog named Freedom, who is very dear to his owner's heart.
"When I arrived to the scene of the accident, one car was upside down and the other car had a woman and her dog inside," Newport News, VA Police Officer TJ Poe said.
Poe, who is from Columbus, and a former K9 officer in Virginia, jumped at the chance to save not only the driver, but her pet, a Belgian Malinois, a breed usually picked for military and police work.
Poe said as first responders arrived on the scene, Freedom's owner was holding her dog to secure him. A little rattled, Poe helped Freedom and his owner from the car. As she made the necessary calls, he let Freedom hop in his patrol car.
"Honestly I didn't think a lot of it," Poe said. "I just missed having a dog in my car."
He said the urge to take a selfie with Freedom was unbearable – and others took photos of Poe and Freedom hanging out, too.
The Newport News, VA Police Department said they received numerous calls on Officer Poe's helpful hand with Freedom, and celebrated his kindness on their Facebook page. The post says:
Yesterday, MPO Poe responded to a car accident near Riverside Hospital. One of the driver's had her dog, Freedom, with her and needed help with Freedom while she got checked out and made the necessary phone calls. MPO Poe, being a former K-9 handler, jumped at the chance to hang out with Freedom.
Today, we received multiple messages from citizens wanting to commend MPO Poe for his assistance and professionalism.
The driver who was involved in the accident sent us this picture and said, 'I cannot thank the department enough. He was amazing and protected my baby.'
Another citizen said, "Kudos to your officer who aided at an accident on August 28th and gave aid and comfort to Freedom, the dog and his owner. I come from 3 generations of police officers from New Haven, Connecticut and it is heartening to hear praise for these fine men and women. Far too often we forget that policing is a difficult job and criticize those who literally put their lives on the line on a regular basis."
Thank you MPO Poe for going above and beyond!#BeyondtheBadge
Poe said he even invited Freedom's owner to an event where less fortunate families can receive food for their pets without taking them to animal shelters.
The former naval intelligence officer is a dog-lover himself: his wife and two daughters have a pit bull mix and are working to foster another pit bull mix in the future.
Interesting roads lead Poe to Virginia: after graduating from Jordan High School, he joined the Navy in the late 1990s and becoming an intelligence officer. Poe said he was at the Pentagon on 9/11, where he'd just switched his duty with a fellow officer before building was attacked. His friend survived, having to crawl through the rubble to safety, Poe said.
Poe said he initially wanted to return to Columbus after leaving the Navy to work in law enforcement, but meeting his wife changed that, and he started his law enforcement career in Virginia.