A veteran state trooper with the Mississippi Highway Patrol is being lauded after saving two emaciated dogs who were left on the side of the Interstate to die.
Master Sergeant Elmo “Mo” Townsend was patrolling near Brandon, Mississippi when he spotted a semi truck braking hard to avoid a dog.
“I said to myself, ‘Well that poor dog just bought the farm,” Townsend told LEO Affairs in an interview. “I thought the best I could do now for him was to at least turn around and remove him [from the] roadway so he did not get repeatedly run over by traffic.”
Driving nearly two miles before finding a location to safely turn around, Townsend returned to the site of the incident, only to find -much to his surprise- that the dog’s body was nowhere to be found.
“I thought maybe he was injured and may have been laying in the grass in the median,” Townsend said. “So I got out of my patrol car and started looking.”
As Townsend dismounted from his police cruiser, he noticed the dog in the center median of the Interstate. Taking notice of the State Trooper, the dog immediately began to make his way over to Townsend’s side of the highway, almost getting hit a second time.
The dog darted towards the on ramp divider, leading Townsend on what appeared to be the most bizarre foot pursuit of the day. However, it would appear the dog was trying to inform Townsend of a much more pressing issue.
“He ran down the middle [the divider] ‘till he stopped at what I thought was some cardboard trash laying on the ground,” Townsend recalled. “However it started moving and I realized it was another small dog.”
Passersby who were witness to the event stopped to assist the trooper, resulting in both dogs being taken into protective custody. After securing the animals in his vehicle, Townsend snapped a photo and posted it to social media while taking the emaciated dogs to the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.
“The Sheriff here has an outstanding animal control unit and they work tirelessly to help rescue all types of animals inside the county that are in need,” Townsend said. “They also work very hard at trying to find homes for the abandoned dogs, cats, horses, goats -and yes- even pot belly pigs from time to time.”
Despite Mississippi law enforcement and animal control agencies suffering from budget restraints, he says both agencies do the best they can for humans and animals alike with what they do have.
Master Sergeant Elmo Townsend is no stranger to notable events. Just last year, he made the news after being forcibly dragged 100 yards by a suspect during a traffic stop. In 2011, he again took notoriety after releasing the dash cam footage of the funeral procession for fallen Marine SSG Jason Rogers, whose return to Brandon Mississippi was welcomed by hundreds of civilians and first responders standing along the roadside.
Despite his local fame, Townsend has always been a humble character with a passion for taking care of animals.
“As I have grown older and have learned from experience how precious life is, anytime I can try to save one life- be it a dog, cat, bird or even a turtle crossing the road, I have found it to be very rewarding to me,” he said. “I guess in a way I look at it like I cheated death from a victory in every instance that I intervene- where [death] was sure to have won.”
Master Sergeant Townsend is a long time veteran of the Highway Patrol, currently serving as the statewide supervisor for the MHP Traveling Criminal Apprehension unit and the Narcotics and Explosive Detection K-9 units, respectively.
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