Mathis was exiting the elevator on the floor to his apartment when a new tenant was walking in with her dog in tow. Video Mathis recorded from his building's security camera showed the elevator doors close on the dog's leash, with its owner inside.
Mathis said he was fueled by pure adrenaline when he ran up to the Pomeranian in an effort to save the dog from getting strangled by its leash as the elevator car went up to the top floor."I tried to break it at first," Mathis said. "I tried to lean down on it with all my weight but it wouldn't snap."Mathis, who works at Houston Welders Supply and teaches welding part-time, then tried to pull the dog's collar off. He noted that the collar had a buckle, rather than some which snap on and off.
"I was fighting all that fur, it took me a few tries because that dog was so fluffy," he said.
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Less than 20 seconds after the ordeal began, Mathis managed to get the collar off and grab the dog for its owner.
"I could hear her screaming the whole time," he said.
He then pressed the elevator's button to try and get the dog's owner back, banging on the doors to try and let her know he got her dog.
"She was on the floor with her face covered just bawling her eyes out," Mathis said of the dog's owner when the elevator came back down. "I felt really bad."Mathis told NBC News he hasn't been able to talk to his neighbor since the incident happened on Monday evening, but that he learned she was new to the building. It seemed to him that she didn't realize the dog, who was on a retractable lead, wasn't behind her because she didn't feel a tug on the leash.
"I really feel bad for the girl, she’s gotten a lot of hate," Mathis said. "I didn’t realize how much backlash there might be for her. We’re all human, things happen like that. It just takes a second for your attention to not be there."
Mathis was unable to provide NBC News with additional information to get in contact with the dog's owner.
The 27-year-old told NBC News that if there's one good thing that can come from the incident, it's that he hopes people pay more attention to their animals on elevators.
Stay consistent with training, play time and rest time for your pets so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Your calm and consistent demeanor will help your pet to understand that they can trust you. Once you earn their trust, understand the schedule, and feel secure in their safe place, both of your lives will be much easier.
"It’s scary, there’s nothing you can do and if you freeze up it can go really bad," Mathis said.