A potentially tragic incident turned into an act of heroism after a man was caught on video saving his neighbor’s dog from an elevator.
Johnny Mathis, 27, was on his way into his apartment in Houston when the frightening moment occurred, CNN reported. As he was exiting the elevator, one of his neighbors was getting on — along with her dog, which she was pulling on a leash.
"When she got on, I was looking at the dog, because it was a cute dog," Mathis told CNN. "I noticed the leash was kinda long but I didn’t think it wasn’t going to make it on the elevator or anything."
But that’s exactly what happened. While the neighbor made it into the elevator, the small Pomeranian remained stuck in the hallway when the doors shut completely.
Mathis tried yelling for his neighbor, but it was too late. The doors were closed and the elevator had begun rising, pulling the dog’s leash with it.
In a heroic move captured on security footage, Mathis stepped in and saved the dog by quickly removing its leash before it was too late. He later shared the video on Twitter, where it has been viewed nearly 17 million times.
"Y’all I’m shaking!!!” Mathis tweeted about the incident. "I just saved a dog on a leash that didn’t make it onto the elevator with the owner before the door closed! I just happened to turn around as the door closed and it started to lift off the ground I got the leash off in time."
The 27-year-old said his neighbor starting screaming as soon as the doors closed and that she was "crying her eyes out" when she came back down the elevator. Although her pup was totally safe, she’d thought he’d been killed.
"She thought the worse, that the dog had died," Mathis told CNN.
He added that the neighbor hugged him and thanked him repeatedly when she returned but noted that she couldn’t stop crying.
As Mathis’ story has gone viral, some people have criticized his neighbor for allowing her dog to be put in danger. He has stood by his new neighbor, though, telling CNN that she was new to the building and may not have completely understood how the elevators worked.
"Unfortunately, this girl is getting backlash about all of this…" Mathis later tweeted. "I did what I had to do to help the pup. I’m thankful I was there at the right time to help."