Patrick “PJ” Otis wasn’t home when his house in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin burst into flames. Yet, his first thought wasn’t about his belongings or even the home itself. Instead, he was worried about his 14-year-old rescue dog Darma, who was still inside.
Luckily, Otis didn’t have to worry for long because help was on the way. Joe Loduha, a former emergency medical technician, stopped to help. He fearlessly ran into the house to save Darma. Yet, he claims that he’s not a true hero because he was just doing the right thing at the right time.
A Good Samaritan
Loduha was driving to a carpentry job nearby when he spotted Otis’ home on fire. He didn’t know Otis personally, but he felt compelled to stop and see what was going on. Some neighbors were already outside calling 9-1-1, so Loduha asked them if anyone was inside.
The neighbors were unsure if any humans were inside, but they knew there was a dog inside. That was all Loduha needed to hear. As long as there was a living creature inside, he had to do whatever he could to save them.
Loduha broke through the front door because the flames were coming out the back of the home. When he got inside, he saw Darma relaxing on the couch. She stayed calm, and looked at Loduha as if she wanted him to take her for a walk. Loduha carried her outside and handed her to a neighbor.
“I didn’t feel like I was in imminent danger of death at any point,” Loduha said. “The front door was open.”
Yet, his mission wasn’t done after that. He ran back inside not long after, checking the other rooms for signs of life. He called out ‘fire’ repeatedly. But when he opened one door and smoke burst out, he knew it was time to retreat.
The Ultimate Act of Kindness
Loduha had some cuts on his leg from breaking down the door and he had inhaled an excessive amount of smoke. Luckily, a medical team came to the rescue right away, and of course, Loduha wouldn’t have done things any differently.
When Otis returned home, he could not fully express how grateful he was for Loduha’s quick-thinking. Otis didn’t care that his house was in flames. All that mattered is that no one got hurt. Now, he wants to find a way to pay Loduha’s kindness forward. Loduha was moved by Otis’ selfless reaction.
“It struck me that this is how real people should feel,” said Loduha. “These are just material things, and he didn’t care at all, like less than I probably would have.”
The Wauwatosa and Milwaukee fire departments were able to get the fire out in 30 minutes. But unfortunately, Otis’ home is in rough shape. The Red Cross of Wisconsin is currently helping Otis and Darma find a place to stay in the meantime.
Loduha might not consider himself a hero, but he saved a rescue dog’s life that day. Items can be replaced, but a dog’s life cannot. So, he should receive much more recognition than he’s giving himself.
A friend of Otis also started a GoFundMe to help him through this difficult time. Feel free to donate to help Otis and Darma get back on their feet.