By Jorge Barrientos ~ During jiujitsu lessons Tuesday evening, instructor Matt Baker asked 9-year-old Drew Heredia what he would do if put in a certain position he was teaching.
“I’d get on my back and do a choke hold,” he said.
It’s the same thing Drew did last week when he saved a 12-year-old girl from being mauled by a pit bull. Using a tactic he learned in class, he put the attacking dog in a chokehold and held it for at least 20 minutes until help arrived.
“I wanted my son to be in this sport in case there was ever an emergency, in case he ever had to protect himself,” mother Amy Heredia said. “I thought he’d maybe use it as a man, but I had no idea as a child.”
Drew and his mother, a mixed martial arts and Ultimate Fighting Championship fan, started taking classes at Bakersfield Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about two months ago. The chokehold Drew learned, called a rear naked chokehold, was taught only briefly, instructor Matt Baker said. Drew had practiced, including at home on his mother, she said.
“It’s a move we use with caution, and the reason is because it works,” Baker said.
Baker said when he heard about what Drew did, he couldn’t believe it.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage to do something like that.”
Drew was walking with his neighbor after getting the mail last week when the pit bull started attacking the neighbor’s dachshund. She tried to save her dog, but the pit bull started attacking her instead.
That’s when Drew, who his mother described as a “passive, sweet little boy” who “gets beat up all the time” in class, stepped in. He wanted to kick it, he said, but thought the dog would just bite his leg. Instead he put the move on him. “He was moving really hard, like one of those rodeo bulls,” Drew said. “Then he went limp.”
For more than 20 minutes, Drew held the panting dog until Animal Control officials arrived. The dog is now being held at a shelter until Thursday. The city will decide what to do with the dog after that. Euthanization is an option, but Amy Heredia hopes someone rescues it, she said.
Neighbors found the frightened dachshund huddled in a corner of a house being built nearby.
The 12-year-old girl is recovering from dog bites to her shoulder. Her family has sent Drew notes and balloons, thanking him for saving her life, Amy Heredia said.
Amy said she is extremely proud of her son, who always sticks up for the underdog and tells Mom not to speed when driving. She said she hopes other parents see the sport as a good self-defense tool.
“He’s such a good kid. He’s got heart,” the single mother said. “I’m just so thankful I put him in the class when I did.”