An elderly man who wanted to get rid of his dog tied the pooch to the train tracks, but his dastardly plan was foiled by an eagle-eyed engineer, according to authorities.
The railroad operator hit the emergency brakes and the 10-month-old poodle terrier mix -- nicknamed Banjo by animal-control officials in Riverside County, Calif. -- was saved.
His owner was detained but will not be charged with a crime because he may have dementia, officials said. He told investigators he didn't want the dog but didn't know what to do with him.
"It's probably one of the worst things I've seen," Union Pacific Special Agent Sal Pina, who untied the animal from the tracks after the close call on April 2, said in a statement released Tuesday.
"I've never seen something like this," said Pina, who owns the same breed of dog.
Riverside officials said the dog was healthy and friendly. Although he made several TV appearances, he's no publicity hound; a vet tech takes him home every night to work on his timid temperment, officials said.
Hundreds of adoption offers from across the country poured in and officials said they expect Banjo -- named after old traffic signals found on some rail lines -- will have a new home by Monday.