A dog who saved a teenager’s life from coyotes after a car crash was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame on Monday.
In June 2014, Joseph Phillips-Garcia went out with his aunt, cousin and their 4-year-old king shepherd, Sako, for a day of fishing and wild potato picking. On their way home, Phillips-Garcia and his family drove off the road and down a steep hill more than 100 yards into a forest.
Phillips-Garcia and Sako, the only two survivors of the crash, were thrown out of the car. Phillips-Garcia blacked out and could barely move when he woke up.
“I tried moving in any possible way I could,” Phillips-Garcia said. “I felt my head and I looked down at my hand, and it was just filled with blood.”
The teen reported that a bone was jutting out of his leg. Later, a doctor confirmed that he also had a broken collar bone and femur. Sako, who lived with Phillips-Garcia’s family since he was a puppy, did not leave the teen’s side and kept him warm at night by cuddling.
At one point, Sako even dragged the teen to a creek to get water and fought off coyotes.
“We were just falling asleep, and that’s when you hear the first couple of howls,” Phillips-Garcia said. “He got up as soon as he realized their scent was coming closer and closer, and then he just went in.”
Nearly 48 hours after the crash, a search team discovered the pair.
For his valiant efforts, Sako received a medal during Monday’s ceremony, which honors animals for their lifesaving deeds.