From 'Unadoptable' to Family Hero: Edgar the Dog Saves 3 Little Girls From Would-Be Abductor

Edgar the dog surrounded by his family.
Thom Lambert with his daughters and Edgar, the dog.Thom Lambert

The coonhound was rescued by a Pennsylvania family who now say he's a hero.

Edgar the dog, a coonhound rescued from West Virginia, pretty much does whatever he wants. And what he wants to do most of the time is run around the neighborhood visiting other dogs.

He also likes to sleep.

"He's a complete idiot," says his owner, Thom Lambert of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Lambert means that in the best possible way. "He's just goofy," Lambert explains. "He just runs around the neighborhood. We can't keep him in our yard."

Lambert's neighbors don't mind. Because now, the affable Edgar is a local hero.

Edgar in his element. - Thom Lambert

The 4-year-old hound dog is credited with saving Lambert's three daughters, ages 3 to 8, from an intruder who broke into their house, the father said. The suspect had already abducted a 4-year-old girl from the area just days before, police said.

"Now we've got a story to tell forever," Thom told "Hero dog."

The story began April 28, when the Lamberts returned from a family funeral in the wee hours. Thom and his wife, Melissa, put the girls to bed. Edgar, as his custom, went to sleep in Thom and Melissa's room. 

The couple was jolted awake at 3:45 a.m. by an awful racket. "Edgar was just absolutely losing his mind," Thom said. "He was braying. It was the meanest sound I've ever heard him make."

After they finally got the dog quieted down, Thom heard footsteps in the kitchen, directly below the couple's bedroom. "I said, 'Oh, good God,''' Thom recounted. First, he ran into his daughters' bedrooms to make sure they were OK. They were sound asleep.

He went back to his wife. "I told her to be really quiet," he said. Then he headed downstairs. "I saw the front door was hanging wide open. I knew I had dead-bolted it. The window in the kitchen was open. ... So he had gotten in there."

Thom grabbed two butcher knives and ran back upstairs. "I gave my wife a knife and told her to get the girls in there. I called 911 and started sweeping the house," a knife clutched in his hand, he recounted.

When the state police arrived, Edgar was zonked out on the bed. They searched the house but found no trace of the intruder. Thom told them about being awakened by the dog's frenzied barking and howling.

"What dog?" one of the officers asked. "That dog," Thom said, gesturing toward Edgar. The dog didn't move a muscle.

Yeah, right, the cops said. "They 100 percent didn't believe me," Thom said, laughing.

Edgar, mom Melissa and the Lambert's three daughter. - Thom Lambert

Two days later, police arrested 20-year-old Thomas Dewald. He was charged with kidnapping a 4-year-old neighborhood girl from her bed on April 25 and locking her in a wooden chest in his bedroom, authorities said. The child was able to escape while Dewald was at work, according to Pennsylvania State Police, and was found later that day wandering on the side of a road about a mile from her home.

Dewald admitted taking the child, police said, and said he kidnapped her to rescue her from "deplorable" conditions in her house. He also acknowledged breaking into the Lambert's home but said he ran after a dog started barking, state police said.

"I guess we had something he wanted," Lambert said, referring to his daughters.

Dewald has been charged with kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, burglary, false imprisonment, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint and other charges. He is being held without bail at the Franklin County Jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 14, according to court documents.

Edgar, meanwhile, is the star of his canine kingdom.

"Now, all the neighbors are like 'We're bringing Edgar a steak.' Or they're at the pet store buying him treats," Thom said.

The family adopted him about a year ago from the local humane society. Thom, a furniture maker, dreamed of having a dog that would roam his shop and impress customers.

"I always wanted a shop dog. In real cool businesses, they always have that really cool shop dog. That was my work fantasy," he said. 

Edgar had come from West Virginia, where coon dogs are unlikely to be adopted because "there's just so many of them there. The market is over saturated," he said. But in Waynesboro, "he stood out incredibly," and Melissa was smitten with him during a visit to the shelter, where she regularly takes her girls to play with the animals.

"She said she just felt drawn to him," Thom said. "It was really, really, really a good thing that my wife was drawn to this dog," he said.

Edgar and his humans. - Thom Lambert

He credits Edgar with saving his daughters. 

He also says Edgar can be a pain. He sleeps in the bed with Thom and Melissa and is prone to stretching his four legs against Thom and trying to push him off the mattress.

Edgar and Thom. - Thom Lambert

"By like four o'clock in the morning, I'm putting my hand behind me on the bed to see how far my butt is hanging off," he said. 

"He just kind of does whatever he wants."