A California woman has credited her hero dog with saving her and her baby girl’s lives after the courageous pup alerted them to a fire spreading through their apartment building and even pulled the child to safety.
Nana Chai had put her 7-month-old daughter, Masailah, down to sleep and was getting ready for bed herself when she heard her dog, Sasha, frantically scratching on her Stockton apartment’s back door on June 3.
“I thought, 'What the heck is wrong with her? That’s just not her,'" Chai, 30, told InsideEdition.com. "Usually she struts in and goes straight to the couch and lays down... but I opened the back door and she just started barking at me."
Chai glanced outside and saw flames and black smoke coming from the apartment of a neighbor within the same complex.
“I was shocked and I was stuck, thinking, 'Is this for real?'" she said.
But Sasha sprang into action.
The 8-month-old pit bull pup raced into the bedroom and by the time Chai had followed her there, the dog was busy trying to get the baby out of danger.
“She grabbed the bottom part of my baby’s diaper and she’s pulling her," Chai said.
Chai took the baby from Sasha, grabbed her phone and the dog’s collar and ran outside, where she called 911 and began banging on doors and windows to alert others in the complex to the fire.
“Both my aunts and my cousin live in apartments there," she said. "I started yelling, 'Fire! Fire!’ And then Sasha ran back in."
The dog raced back into the home in what Chai believed were her attempts to find Chai’s two older children.
“They weren’t home, they were visiting their dad at the time, but Sasha didn’t know that," Chai said. "I was screaming for her, ‘Come back!'"
Firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and attacked the blaze, which was growing.
"The smoke was so bad," Chai recalled. “I kept yelling, 'Where’s Sasha?’ and the firefighters said there’s no dog in there. But I knew Sasha was in the house."
After the fire was put out, Chai was allowed back into the apartment to search for Sasha, and found her inside a closet in the kids’ room.
“My kids love to play high and seek and that’s their hiding spot," Chai said. "She was in their hiding spot. When I found her, I started crying, I hugged her, I kissed her; I was so emotional."
As Chai and her relatives wait to learn the cause of the fire, they are busy looking for Chai’s cousin’s dog, HP, who got out during the fire and hasn’t been seen since.
“He’s Sasha’s brother; they came from the same litter," Chai said. “HP is very friendly and he loves everybody. We’re hoping somebody will return him."
Their old apartment, which was part of a complex her extended family had called home for decades, was damaged in the fire and will be uninhabitable for at least a year, Chai. And even once the property is renovated, the rent will likely be too high for the single mother to afford.
"We can’t go home anymore," she said. "My son is 9 and my daughter is 8; explaining to them was hard. [They said] ‘Will we be homeless?' I said, 'No, we’re going to be OK.'"
Chai was able to salvage the children’s clothes from the charred apartment. She and her children are now staying with her father, and Sasha is with her aunt, while she looks for a new apartment.
“When the baby came home is when Sasha came home; they’ve been inseparable ever since,” Chai said, laughing. Sasha is there while Masailah bathes, eats, plays and sleeps, and the separation has been hard.
“My aunt has been calling me, saying [Sasha] is crying, but I brought the baby in and she’ll just calm down," Chai laughed. "She’s family.”
Chai’s family has created a GoFundMe account to help her and her other relatives affected by the fire get back on their feet. To donate, click here.