At 2 a.m. on the morning of September 26, a young family in Tallahassee, Fla., was woken by loud barking coming from their back patio.
Onyx, the family’s 9-month-old pitbull, was doing what he could to alert his family–Trevor Myres, Sierra Plair and their two sons–that a fire had broken out.
Myres rushed to the back patio where the fire had started and found Onyx on fire. He extinguished the flames on the dog with a hose, while the rest of the family evacuated safely.
“I honestly do feel like if Onyx wasn’t out there, even though it’s unfortunate, anything could have happened,” Plair told Tallahassee.com. “Once [the fire] got up to my son’s room, we wouldn’t have been able to go up there and get the kids out.”
Onyx now joins the ranks of the many animal heroes that Care2 has honored before. Remember Chilly, the bulldog mix from Virginia who urgently woke her sleeping owner, who was suffering from a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction, in time for her to receive life-saving treatment? That heroic act won Chilly the Humane Society’s Pet of Valor award.
For more animal heroes, check out these four animal heroes of 2012, including my own cat, Sargent Pepper, who woke my husband and I just in time to escape our house before our basement exploded in flames.
Sargent Pepper escaped with no physical wounds, but Onyx was not so lucky.
Although firefighters were able to extinguish the fire along the rear of the home and inside the back porch, with damages estimated at just $5,000, the dog was left in serious condition. He had burns over 25 to 30 percent of his body and will require weeks of expensive treatment.
The family originally took Onyx to a Tallahassee animal hospital who said they could not treat Onyx because the family did not have enough money to take care of the costs.
“We were at our wits’ end,” Plair told Tallahassee.com. “We were going to give him up because we didn’t have money for treatment.”
Luckily, the staffs at the Tallahassee-Leon County Animal Service Center and Northwood Animal Hospital had another idea.
According to WTXL.com:
“Our goal is to help pets stay in their homes with their families,” Dr. Rachel Barton, Animal Services Veterinarian, told WXTL. “Given the traumatic event this family had just experienced, we knew we needed to do whatever we could to help them keep Onyx at home.”
To raise money for Onyx’s treatment, Dr. Kevin Brumfield at Northwood began a Facebook campaign and set up a PayPal account where people could donate money. The original Facebook post was shared more than 1,000 times.
Animal lovers don’t need reminding of this, but how wonderful to see the human-animal bond revealed in all its complexity: animals putting faith in humans and helping them, and humans reaching out to love and nurture their animals.
Sadly, this story is not over yet. Onyx was transported to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for further treatment on September 29. Of course without the generous donations, Onyx’s family would not have been able to afford any of this.
“The support that we have received for Onyx has brought me so many wonderful chills!” wrote Dr. Morgan Guoan in an update. “Thank you to all for the wonderful smile in my heart and for the most beautiful love, light and energy all of you are sending. Onyx is wagging his tail for you! Thank you for that!”
Wishing you a speedy recovery, Onyx!
Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=572598352805614&set=pb.259070710825048.-2207520000.1380572201.&type=3&theater target="_blank">Tallahassee Fire Department
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