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Turlock woman’s heroism recognized with national award
Ana Ramirez
Ana Ramirez gets a well-deserved hug from Jose Ramos after receiving a police commendation for saving the young boy from two attacking pit bulls. Since then, Ramirez was named as one of the awardees for the Carnegie Hero medal (Journal file photo).

A Turlock woman who put her own life at risk to save a young boy and his dog from two attacking pit bull dogs has been awarded a Carnegie Hero medal.

Ana Ramirez is credited with saving the life of 12-year-old Jose Ramos and his Huskie dog Hercules and for her act of bravery the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission named her one of their recent honorees. The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the United States and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The heroes announced on Sept. 20 are the third group of awards made in 2018 and bring to 10,044 the total number since the Pittsburgh-based Fund's inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant. Throughout the 114 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $40.4 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.

Carnegie hero award

On April 18, 2017, Ramos was walking Hercules around his neighborhood on a leash when two, 65-pound pit bulls, a male and a female, approached and began to attack his dog. During the attack, Ramos and his dog were bitten, and he was unable to release his grip on his dog’s leash.

Ramirez, 47, was driving with her 15-year-old daughter when she spotted the attack and jumped into action. She blew her horn in an attempt to scare the dogs off, but they continued to attack the boy and his dog.

Ramirez exited the car and approached the pit bulls. She shouted at the dogs and the female pit bull moved away, but the male was unswayed from his quarry.

Ramirez ran back to her car and got the only thing she could use as a weapon against the pit bull — part of a child’s booster seat.

“I thought I needed something to scare the dogs away and my first thought was the booster seat in my car. I grabbed it and started yelling at the dogs and the female, who had just been barking ran off, but the male wouldn’t let go of the Huskie,” Ramirez said during a recounting of the incident when the Turlock Police Department awarded her a special commendation.

Ramirez again approached the male pit bull and yelled and when that failed to have any effect she struck it with the booster seat part.

The strike managed to turn the pit bull’s attention away from Ramos and Hercules, but it didn’t lessen his aggression. The pit bull clamped his powerful jaws on Ramirez’s wrist and forearm and held on. Ramirez struck the dog again with the booster seat, and the dog released her.

“I was so mad I just yelled and hit it again and it ran off,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez still has the scars from the bite, but has regained full motion of her wrist. Ramos escaped the ordeal with an injury to his finger, as well as other contusions and lacerations. Hercules the Huskie has made a full recovery as well.

The event that inspired Carnegie to organize the Fund was the Harwick mine disaster near Pittsburgh in January 1904. An explosion in the mine resulted in the death of 181 people, including an engineer and a miner, who responded to the scene and gave up their lives in the ensuing rescue efforts. The tragedy and the sacrifices moved Carnegie and gave him the quest of honoring “heroes of civilization.”

“I do not expect to stimulate or create heroism by this Fund,” Carnegie wrote, “knowing well that heroic action is impulsive. But I do believe that, if the hero is injured in his bold attempt to serve or save his fellows, he and those dependent upon him should not suffer pecuniarily.”

The Commission’s Deed of Trust established a $5 million fund to recognize persons “in peaceful vocations” who act to “preserve or rescue their fellows.”  The Commission was empowered to make monetary grants, as well. Given to the heroes or the next of kin in cases of death, the grants include continuing support, scholarship assistance, and death benefits.